Baobab is the common name of a genus of trees (Adansonia). There are eight species. Six species live in the drier parts of Madagascar, one in mainland Africa, and one in Australia. The baobab is the national tree of Madagascar.
Other common names include ‘boab’, ‘boaboa’, ‘bottle tree’, ‘the tree of life’, ‘upside-down tree’, and ‘monkey bread tree’.
The trees reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft).
Its trunk can hold up to 120,000 litres of water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air.
The baobab tree is known as the tree of life, with good reason. It can provide shelter, clothing, food, and water for the animal and human inhabitants of the African savannah regions.
The cork-like bark and huge stem are fire resistant and are used for making cloth and rope. The leaves are used as condiments and medicines. The fruit, called “monkey bread”, is edible, and full of vitamin C.