Our beautiful planet: Africa′s tree of life | Eco Africa | DW | 01.09.2017
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Eco Africa

Our beautiful planet: Africa's tree of life

Africa's baobab tree is beloved for its nutrional and curative properites. Also known as the upside-down tree, it's unusual appearance has captured the imagination of many.

With its enormous, swollen trunk and branches that look like roots, the baobab tree is an imposing and otherworldly figure in the African landscape. Also known as the "tree of life," it occupies a mythical space for many on the continent.

That it is so iconic is little wonder. A baobab can survive for thousands of years in the dry, harsh scrublands and savannas of Africa where it grows. (It's also found in India and Australia.)

They store water in their trunks and produce a nutrient rich fruit that has six times more vitamin C than oranges and 50 percent more calcium than spinach. The bark is used for making cloth and rope, while the root and leaves are used in remedies for malaria, insect bites and fever. 

The tree's reputation has now extended beyond Africa. Some worry the fruit - seen as a "super food" - could become scarce as demand for it grows in Europe and elsewhere and production becomes commercialized. Traditionally, the baobab is wild and is harvested by hand. 

Still, others feel if the tree is sustainably farmed, it could provide a steady income for communities.

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