The Baobab is often described as the tree that God planted upside down and although its height only reaches to about 20 metres, its trunk is so great that it qualifies for first or second place in the world for size.
It only occurs in sub-tropical and tropical areas as it is not frost-resistant.
Carbon dating of very large specimens (with a diameter of 8 metres) indicates ages of well over 3,000 years.
The flowers have white, waxy, wrinkled petals. Although they are large and beautiful, their smell is unpleasant. They are pollinated by bats.
The fruit was well known in the herb and spice markets in Cairo from as early as 2,500 BC. The seeds are embedded in a white powdery pulp in a hard woody shell which is covered with yellowish/grey velvety hairs. They contain quantities of tartaric acid and potassium bitartrate and are often sucked. When added to water or milk, with a little sugar, they make a pleasant and refreshing drink.
The bark is soft and fibrous and when pounded to a pulp makes excellent rope and floor mats.
It was believed that water in which the seeds were soaked gave protection from crocodile attacks and that a man who drank an infusion of the bark, would become mighty and strong.
The Baobab is protected in South Africa but not in Mozambique. Some years ago, hundreds of these trees were cut down in the Tete area.