The baobab tree is a striking, iconic image of Africa. Ancient, immense, majestic, its distinctive branches reach up to the sky, easily seen from many miles across the savannah.

Baobab is a prehistoric species and has existed for over 200 million years. During the rainy season, it absorbs and stores water in its huge trunk, which can hold up to 100,000 litres of water. This allows it to produce a fruit packed full of nutrients in the dry season when all around is dry and arid. This is why it’s known as “The Tree of Life”.

Baobab trees can grow for up to 5,000 years. They can reach up to 25 metres high and up to a huge 50 metres in circumference. Legend has it that the baobab tree offended God and was punished by being planted upside down! As a result, in winter when the branches are bare, the tree looks like a cluster of roots pointing skywards.

There are nine species of baobab – one in Australia, two in Africa and six in Madagascar. The largest variety is in Africa – the Adansonia Digitata. It was once thought that the tree was becoming extinct, but fortunately, it is not. Fortunate, because of all the benefits that people in 32 countries across Africa derive from this mighty tree.

Almost every part of the baobab tree has something to offer. The baobab seeds are rich in oil, calcium, phosphates and proteins; the pollen can be used for making glue; the fibers from the trunk can be made into paper and rope mats; the tender leaves are high in calcium and can be eaten like spinach; and tea and beer can be made from the bark.

For centuries, people across Africa have been using the oil from the seeds of the baobab fruit to hydrate and protect their skin. Baobab oil moisturises and rejuvenates the skin, is high in antioxidants, and contains anti-inflammatory omega fatty acids.

The fruit of the baobab is the size of a coconut, and is high in vitamins B and C; magnesium; calcium; potassium; iron; carbohydrates; and dietary fibre. It is high in antioxidants, possesses three times the amount of vitamin C in an orange and has 50% more calcium than spinach. It is high in Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, and its oil has healing therapeutic properties.

The baobab provides food, water, shelter and more to humans and to all types of animals. It’s not for nothing that it is known as the Tree of Life.