Baobab(Adansonia digitata)

Botanical Name : Adansonia digitata
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Adansonia
Species: A. digitata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Common Name :Baobab

Common Vernacular names:
Adansonia digitata is known by many common names, the most common of which is baobab. It is also known as the dead-rat tree (from the appearance of the fruits), monkey-bread tree (the soft, dry fruit is edible), upside-down tree (the sparse branches resemble roots) and cream of tartar tree. In French, it is known as calebassier du Sénégal and arbre de mille ans; in Portuguese as molambeira, imbondeiro, calabaceira and cabacevre; and in Swahili as mbuyu, mkuu hapingwa, mkuu hafungwa and muuyu.

It is called momret in the Tigrigna language of Ethiopia, where it favors lowland areas with moist and well-drained soils, such as the valley of the Tekeze River lowlands, and “kuka” by the Hausa speaking people of West Africa. In Nigeria, it is a very popular tree in the savannahs of the north and its leaves are used to prepare local soup called “miyan kuka”. In Sudan, the tree is called “tabaldi” and its fruit is called “gongu laze”.

Habitat :Adansonia digitata, the baobab, is the most widespread of the Adansonia species on the African continent, found in the hot, dry savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa. It also grows, having spread secondary to cultivation, in populated areas. The northern limit of its distribution in Africa is associated with rainfall patterns; only on the Atlantic coast and in the Sudan does its occurrence venture naturally into the Sahel. On the Atlantic coast this may be due to spreading after cultivation. Its occurrence is very limited in Central Africa and it is found only in the very north of Southern Africa. In Eastern Africa the trees grow also in shrublands and on the coast. In Angola and Namibia the baobabs grow in woodlands, and in coastal regions, in addition to savannahs. Also found in Dhofar region of Oman and Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula, Asia. This tree is also found in India, particularly in the dry regions of the country

Description:
The trees usually grow as solitary individuals, and are large and distinctive trees on the savannah, in the scrub, and near settled areas, with some large individuals living to well over a thousand years of age. The tree bears very large, heavy white flowers. The showy flowers are pendulous with a very large number of stamens. They carry a carrion scent and researchers have shown that they appear to be primarily pollinated by fruit bats of the subfamily Pteropodinae. The fruits are filled with pulp that dries, hardens, and falls to pieces which look like chunks of powdery, dry bread.

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The African baobab‘s fruit is 6 to 8 inches or 15 to 20 centimetres long. It contains 50% more calcium than spinach, is high in anti-oxidants, and has three times the vitamin C of an orange. It is sometimes called a superfruit. The leaves can be eaten as relish, while the fruit dissolved in milk or water can be used as a drink. The seeds also produce edible oil.

In 2008, the European Union approved the use and consumption of baobab fruit as an ingredient in smoothies and cereal bars.

The United States Food and Drug Administration granted generally recognized as safe status to baobab dried fruit pulp as a food ingredient in 2009.

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It’s large green or brownish fruits resemble gourd-like capsules that are around 6-8 inches in length. These capsules contain a soft whitish fruit pulp that has the appearance of powdery bread and kidney shaped seeds.

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To grow A. digitata from a seed, cutting into the thick seed coat greatly speeds up germination, from months or years to seven days.

The specific epithet digitata refers to the fingers of a hand, which the five leaflets (typically) in each cluster bring to mind.

Edible Uses:
The baobab is a traditional food plant in Africa, but is little-known elsewhere. It has been suggested that the vegetable has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care

The fruit can be up to 25 centimetres (10 in) long and is used to make a drink

Medicinal Uses:
The bark of this tree has been used traditionally to fight fevers.  The leaves may be an excellent source of mineral salts, especially calcium, phosphor and iron, amino acids and provitamin A. There are aspects of considerable interest which require further trials on man, in order to confirm the properties extolled by traditional medicine.  Baobab products do not pretend to be a miraculous panacea, but can simply contribute to rebalancing and restoring the main functions of the organism and the epidermis, offering well-being and energy. Only 5 g a day are beneficial to maintain the state of well-being of the organism, since it increases the resistance to viruses (such as flu and herpes), regularizes the intestine, glycemia and the blood cholesterol values, gives strength, energy and resistance, rebalances mood swings, alleviates menstrual pains, and is anti-anemic, febrifugal and anti-inflammatory. Its beneficial properties may also be applied to obtain a healthy skin and to tackle the effects of premature ageing by virtue of the antioxidant, softening, smoothing and elasticizing properties.

The bark, which contains several flavonols, has been sold commercially in Europe under the name ‘cortex cael cedra’, as a fever treatment, and substitute for cinchona bark.

The off-white, powdery substance inside the fruit shell is apparently rich in ascorbic acid. It is this white powdery substance which is soaked in water to provide a refreshing drink somewhat reminiscent of lemonade. This drink is also used to treat fevers and other complaints.

Medicinally, it has many applications. The pulp is consumed to treat fever, diarrhea, malaria, hemoptysis and scorbutic complaints (vitamin C deficiency). The bark and leaves are also useful in the treatment of fever, and are reported to have anti-inflammatory and diaphoretic properties. The seed is either pulped and applied externally, or drink in water, to cure gastric, kidney and joint diseases. In the Kalahari, San bushmen use the seeds as an antidote to Strophanthin, a common plant-derived arrow poison.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia_digitata
http://www.tarcherbooks.net/?tag=baobab-tree

http://www.madagascar-library.com/r/833.html

http://www.natural-health-and-home-business.com/Baobab.html

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