Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Baobab Tree

TREE OF LIFE, in the center of Animal Kingdom, modelled after the Baobab Tree.

Here are a few shots I took of the Baobab tree, from Africa...while I was on the safari at Animal Kingdom, Disney World on Monday. The tree is quite unusual looking and intriguing. According to Go Florida ,the safaris are described as expeditions into the wilds of Africa beginning at the edge of a typical wildlife reserve in the coastal village of Harambe, with its bustling architecture. A huge, gnarled baobab tree, traditional icon of the African savannah, serves as the starting point for Kilimanjaro Safaris. Traveling in large, open-sided safari lorries, guests follow bumpy trails exploring 110 acres of forests, rivers, hills and grasslands filled with free-roaming antelope, rhinos, hippopotamus, zebra, crocodiles, baboons and other creatures. The high adventure culminates in a race to save an elephant herd from a gang of dangerous ivory poachers.

The journey ends at Pangani Forest Exploration Trail where guests can disembark and walk through a bamboo jungle inhabited by two troops of lowland gorillas, see hippos from an underwater viewing area and explore a forest of exotic birds.

Adansonia digitata, or Baobab tree, was named in honour of Michel Adanson, the naturalist who first saw it in Senegal, Africa about 1750.

The Baobab tree is a strange looking tree that grows in low-lying areas in Africa and Australia. It can grow to enormous sizes and carbon dating indicates that they may live to be 3,000 years old. One ancient hollow Baobab tree in Zimbabwe is so large that up to 40 people can shelter inside its trunk. Various Baobabs have been used as a shop, a prison, a house, a storage barn and a bus shelter.

When bare of leaves, the spreading branches of the Baobab look like roots sticking up into the air, rather as if it had been planted upside-down. The African bushman has a legend that tells of the god Thora. He took a dislike to the Baobab growing in his garden, so he threw it out over the wall of Paradise on to Earth below, and although the tree landed upside-down it continued to grow. The tree is certainly very different from any other. The trunk is smooth and shiny, not at all like the bark of other trees, and it is pinkish grey or sometimes copper coloured.

The Baobab tree has large whitish flowers which open at night. The fruit, which grows up to a foot long, contains tartaric acid and vitamin C and can either be sucked, or soaked in water to make a refreshing drink. They can also be roasted and ground up to make a coffee-like drink. The fruit is not the only part of the Baobab that can be used. The bark is pounded to make rope, mats, baskets, paper and cloth; the leaves can be boiled and eaten, and glue can be made from the pollen.

It is not surprising that such a strange looking tree should have superstitions linked to it. Some people believe that if you pick a flower from a Baobab tree you will be eaten by a lion, but if you drink water in which a Baobab's seeds have been soaked you will be safe from crocodile attack.

Baobabs are very difficult to kill, they can be burnt, or stripped of their bark, and they will just form new bark and carry on growing. When they do die, they simply rot from the inside and suddenly collapse, leaving a heap of fibres, which makes many people think that they don't die at all, but simply disappear.

An old Baobab tree can create its own ecosystem, as it supports the life of countless creatures, from the largest of mammals to the thousands of tiny creatures scurrying in and out of its crevices. Birds nest in its branches; baboons devour the fruit; bush babies and fruit bats drink the nectar and pollinate the flowers, and elephants have been known to chop down and consume a whole tree.

A Baby Baobab tree looks very different from its adult form and this is why the Bushmen believe that it doesn't grow like other trees, but suddenly crashes to the ground with a thump, fully grown, and then one day simply disappears. No wonder they are thought of as magic trees.

Baobabs, grown from seed, are a popular choice for cultivation as bonsai plants.

The above information was found HERE
My favorite part of the trip to Animal Kingdom was looking at and appreciating all of the plant life!


Teri C said...

Gosh, this was SO interesting! That tree is such a spectacular shape with so many interesting stories about it. Thanks for sharing all this.

Donna said...

Hi Julie, great pictures! What beautiful trees. Animal Kingdom looks like so much fun.

Anonymous said...

Such an informative and interesting post, Julie! I love the massive bulk of that tree's trunk. Truly impressive!

Ginny said...

omg that tree looks like the whomping willow from harry potter!!! don't you love how i can turn anything into something harry potter related hahaha

No Rain said...

Interesting info. I've never had an appreciation for the various African trees--interesting to me but not appealing. I see a lot of slide shows from members at the local Cactus and Succulent Society meetings--showing all the cactus, succulents and trees they see in Africa, and the trees are always boring. When I was at Disney World several years ago, the animal kingdom was one of the areas I bypassed. Maybe I should have gone, just to see if I developed more of an interest seeing one of these in person.

Kelly said...

I LOVE the curves and lines of those trees. I see little minature "tree-like" plants at our local "true" cactus/succulent shop in Pasadena, The California Cactus Center. They have amazing plants there were hundreds of dollars. Anyway, I always want to get one. Come to think of it, I wonder if some aren't just small versions of these trees?

Julie said...

I wonder too Kelly...I will have to research it!!!

Sarah said...

Now "them are some trees"!!!! I have to the heck did you find my blog?