The Wonder of Trees in the South of Africa

Trip Start Jul 10, 2007
Trip End Mar 11, 2008

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Monday, December 17, 2007

The wonder of trees
Traveling in Africa, you start to wonder how trees can grow so big and so beautiful.  The climate here does not always promote growth, yet in certain areas, trees prosper.  There must be spirits in these trees!
The Acacia tree looks like an umbrella and provides shade to thirsty and warm animals.  Other small bushes hide the many shy creatures or the ones ready to pounce on a poor unsuspecting prey (or tourist).  Trees are homes and a source of water and nourishment to so many.  Some insects such as termites build their entire homes around the trees.
My favourite tree and the one I have been waiting to see since I read "Le petit prince" as a child is the baobab or affectionately know as the "upside down tree".  Baobab means fruit with many seeds; luckily for Africa this tree also sustains life.  From the roots to the tip of the branches, the baobab is very valuable.  However, when you stare at a baobab, roots and tips can look quite the same.  The roots of this tree can be cooked and eaten, used as medication, or made into rope or string for fishing nets.  A bark concoction can lower fevers, be used as an antidote for certain poisons, or even clean wounds.  The leaves also offer health cures.  The flowers from the tree do not last long but give a spectacular display of red and yellow.  The tree bears a fruit called monkey-bread that contains a high source of vitamins.  From what I understand, it is consumed as a drink.  The powder from the fruit can also be used in baking bread.
Baobabs have also been common meeting places for generations of people.  Occasionally, groups can actually meet inside the tree as they can be hollow, and still flourish. The sheer size of the tree would explain this fact.
Elephants love to strip the bark off the tree which actually regenerates itself.
Now, I have heard stories of Baobabs being 7000 years old. It is very hard not to want to believe this story because Africans tell it with such pride.  Science has tried to establish the age of the oldest one at about 3000 years... still not bad for a tree.
I remember one of my boys, as a toddler, had asked me if trees could hear us.  I think that I have finally found the answer to his question.  Yes, my dear, in Africa, they do!
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