There are many baobabs all in the Adansonia plant family, but the African baobab (Adansonia digitata) is the most widespread of them.
The African baobab, like the rest of other baobabs, is deciduous (they shed their leaves every year) and found in arid environments. This is why the African baobab is found in the hot grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa.
How has the African baobab adapted to the dry savanna habitat?
For the baobab to survive dry conditions, here are a few adaptations it shows:
1. It only produces leaves during the wet season. Leaves are one of the ways plants lose water to the atmosphere, by a process called transpiration.
2. It has long and deeply set roots to absorb water from the deepest part of the soil. It also has shallow roots which pick up surface water during the wetter seasons.
3. It has a thick scaly trunk that is sturdy and fireproof. Fire outbreaks are a major issue in grasslands in dry seasons, a major cause of vegetation loss.
4. It bears small, finger-like leaves that prevent excess loss of water.
5. Its large, thick-set trunk also helps to store water, etc.
Why is the baobab tree called “wonder tree”
Probably because of its fruit. Baobab trees produce large fruits that are green at first and turn light brown when dry. The baobab fruit gets completely dry on the tree before falling off. It is the only fruit in the world that dries naturally on the branch.
Baobab fruits are edible and are called “superfruits” because of numerous nutritional and health benefits they offer.
What does the Baobab fruit look and taste like?
The fruit has a velvety outer cover but the inside is a tasty white pulp. It is roughly the size of a coconut with an addictive sweet and sour taste.
This white pulp of the baobab tree has been found to contain lots of vitamin C, antioxidants and several key minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. The fruit is tasty but the real magic lies in the powdered preparation.
You can try adding the baobab powder to your yoghurt or oatmeal for excellent results.
Here are some research-proven health benefits of the baobab powder:
a. Promotes immune health due to high vitamin C content
b. Reduces blood sugar due to high fibre content
c. Vitamin C content also improves iron absorption
d. Fibre content also improves digestive health
e. Promotes gut health. The soluble fibre content of the baobab fruit pulp is an effective probiotic which stimulates the growth of beneficial gut flora.
f. According to The Journal of Nutrition, Baobab has the highest antioxidant content of any fruit. This makes it an excellent promoter of radiant skin.
g. Baobab powder is also reported to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antidiarrheal and antiviral properties and useful in treating or preventing anaemia and asthma.
How is baobab powder made?
First of all, mature green fruits are plucked and gathered. Each fruit is scrubbed clean and washed.
Then they are cracked open and the pulp and seeds scooped out into a mortar. These are pounded into a paste. Then the paste is sieved two or three times to obtain a high-quality smooth paste.
The paste is bagged and sealed. The residue can be used as animal feed or in soap making.
The bagged paste is dried to form baobab powder.
Is baobab completely safe to consume?
Yes. Baobab fruit was certified as “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009. There are currently no known health risks associated with consuming baobab fruit or powder.
An oil extracted from the dried seeds of baobab fruits is known to hold numerous skin benefits.
The oil contains vitamins A, D, & E, as well as Omegas 3, 6 & 9. Vitamin A. This amazing composition makes it excellent for fighting wrinkles and acne.
The antioxidants also prevent free radical damage while the Omega 3, 6, 9 enhance the oil’s absorption and helps transport other essential nutrients to your skin.