While travelling, we fell in love with the Baobab Trees of africa- their structure and beauty was haunting! The Baobab is called the Tree of Life in Africa, as it provides shelter, food and water for the animals and humans. Mature trees are often hollow, providing living space for numerous animals and humans alike. When we stayed at a little hotel called Piets Place in Pemba Mozambique, the five rooms were all built under a massive Baobab tree, breakfast was eaten under its spreading branches. Some hollowed-out trunks have been used to provide shelter for as many as 40 people. As an example the cork-like bark is fire resistant and is used for textiles, soap and rope by African farmers and fishermen. The leaves are used for flavouring food and also as medicine and are also   eaten to boost the immune system. The fruit is called monkey bread in some regions and is rich in vitamin C. The tree is also capable of storing hundreds of litres of water. It behaves like a giant succulent and up to 80% of the trunk is water. San Nomads relied on the trees as a valuable source of water when the rains failed and the rivers dried. A single tree can hold up to 4,500 litres and radio-carbon dating has measured that age of some Baobab trees at over 2,000 years old. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air and is often called the upside down tree. There are many superstitions amongst African people regarding the powers of the tree. Such as, if one should dare to pick a flower from it you could be eaten by a lion! But if you drink water in which the seeds have been soaked, you will be safe from a crocodile attack. Can't say either things happened to me- so it seems we're in the clear either way!   Until next time, Lawson Gems    

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