Placing all of your unmatched socks in one drawer eventually leads to extra identification work. Because the socks share similarities, such as size, this isn’t an overwhelming task. When it comes to trees, many species among the evergreens bear the same features, and this is likewise true for a number of species within the deciduous family that grow and later shed their leaves seasonally. Indeed, the word deciduous literally means, “falling off at maturity.” There are, of course, exceptions to everything, and the baobab is so dissimilar to other trees that it could hardly be mistaken for any other plant on Earth. Imagine a giant tree so wide that its hollowed out trunk has, at times, served as shrines, taverns, jails, bus stops and village shelters during extreme weather. This is a tree capable of absorbing and storing a mind-boggling 32,000 gallons of water in its bark, making it the savior of small villages and numerous animal species during droughts.
What does it do?
The baobab lends its various parts to serve as medicine, food, tools and shelter. The calcium-rich fruit offers six times the vitamin C supplied by oranges. The leaves are rich in beta-carotene, which the body transforms into vitamin A. All eight essential amino acids provide a source of complete protein. Once removed from the tree’s fruit, the seeds yield a rich golden oil that the skin absorbs immediately with no bothersome leftover greasiness. This superb oil contains vitamins A and F, a pair of polyunsaturated fatty acids that rejuvenate cell membranes, while the antioxidant vitamin E puts the brakes on aging skin. The omega 3, 6 and 9 contained in the oil provide a soothing treatment for skin ailments that include eczema and psoriasis. The Ayurvedic healers in ancient India found the baobab useful when treating dysentery, diarrhea, excessive thirst and swellings of the skin. The empty fruit pods are rendered into cups, spoons, containers and paint pods. Strips of the tree’s bark are fashioned into beehives.
About the herb
The age of this dry-climate giant is difficult to determine, given the fact that it doesn’t provide seasonal tree rings on the inside. Carbon dating, however, has demonstrated that a number of individuals have attained the age of 6,000 years, making the baobab Earth’s longevity champion. In human terms, one great-grandfather baobab standing today could have been planted earlier than the Bronze Age, the development of writing and the invention of the potter’s wheel! A lovely white flower blooms but one day per year, at which time it is pollinated by bats.
Baobab seeds are coated with a nutrient-dense, tangy white powder that can be taken with water. This pulp is rendered into a delicious candy that blends the tastes of pears, grapefruits and caramel. Keep baobab oil handy to alleviate pain from burns.