We chose to go to Madagascar to see baobab trees and lemurs. It turned out to be an adventure of a lifetime where I stared down my biggest fears, ate horrible food, and lived in a culture hundreds of years behind what I am used to. There were times I thought I would die, scaling a vertical cliff, squeezing through caves, and crossing a 75-foot suspension bridge. Don’t look down they said. So, what did I do? I looked down to a certain death if I fall or if the bridge gives way.
These are stories for another day. Today, it is all about the mighty baobab, a most special tree. These are some of the oldest trees in the world, living up to 3,000 years. The locals carve out the center to provide shelter. Carving is easy as the bark and inner parts of the tree are soft, fibrous, and resistant to fire. Great for protection and the leftovers out can be used to weave clothes and rope. The baobab is a very useful tree.
Meet the mighty baobab:
The baobab is a strangely shaped tree. It looks as though it is upside down with its roots on top, reaching for the sky. As with most cultures, the Malagasy have myths to explain strange and everyday things.
The baobab grew vain and looked down on God’s other creations such as the zebra and hyena. God became angry and ripped the tree out of soil. Not wanting to completely eradicate the tree, God inserted the tree into the soil upside down with its roots exposed.
The baobab has a practical effect on the Malagasy. It is said that people who drink the water where baobab seeds have been soaked in will be protected from crocodile attacks. I was first in line to get a drink.
Traditionally, baobab leaves, bark, and seeds have been used to treat “almost any disease,” including malaria, tuberculosis, fever, microbial infections, diarrhea, anemia, toothache, and dysentery. The leaves and fruit pulp have been used to reduce fever and stimulate the immune system.
You have now met the mighty baobab, tall at 100 feet and aged at 3,000 years. It is a wise tree with its healing and anti-croc powers. What more could you want from a tree?