24. The B list : Herbs and Spices that Heal - BAOBAB

Cream Of Tartar Tree
Dead-Rat Tree
Monkey-Bread Tree
People call it an upside-down tree
There is a folklore about why God created an upside down tree
Indigenous to tropical Africa
Survives over 3000 years!
 Useful bark, seeds fruits, and leaves


Join Gulzaar Foods as we journey into the discovery of the Baobab tree, that resists drought, fire, and termites too!

Appearance and Description

A massive trunk that grows up to 28 centimeters in circumference!

Baobab Adansonia species are found in the sub-Saharan savannahs of Africa , where climatic conditions are dry and hot.

The tree is extensively cultivated and grows in widely populated areas as well. White Baobab flowers are heavy and large with droopy flowers. 

  • Baobab trees can survive for about 3000 years. Just before dying the tree rots and collapses. 
  • Baobab tree barks grow again once stripped. Some believe picking flowers of the baobab tree can result in being eaten by a lion!
  • Another belief is that drinking water that baobab seeds were soaked in, can protect from crocodile attacks!
  • Baobab trees reach a height of about 25 meters. The thick cylindrical trunk with broad tapering branches resembles a root-like system.
  • The baobab stem is smooth and greyish brown. The smooth stem can be between 50mm to a 100mm.
  • The large size leaves branch into leaflets. Just like an adult hand with fingers.
  • The deciduous tree sheds leaves during winter. The leaves appear again around the end of spring when summer starts. White aromatic flowers hang loosely and measure 200mm across. 

From October to December the flowers appear as buds on dangling stalks in the later afternoon. They fall to the ground in 24 hours.

The smell of the flowers pollinates fruit bats that appear at night. The large fruits are egg-shaped measuring 120mm across, swathes in yellow-brown brittles

The fruit exterior is a woody hard shell. An off-white and powdery material covers black seeds that are solid and kidney-shaped.



  • The white powdery substance is immersed in water for a beverage like a revitalizing lemonade.
  • In Tanzania, the oil is used as a replacement for cooking oil in Mondo and Bicha villages. The fruit pulp is used to brew beer in Tanzania as well as Kenya.
  • Traditionally the beverage has been used to treat fevers and other health problems.


A golden oil with a pleasant flavor is produced from the seed. The oil is used during ceremonies and festivals in Senegal.

A common Baobab snack in East Africa. Seeds coated with sugar (Mabuyu).


Other Baobab tree uses:

  • Used to build homes, barns, bus stops and pubs too.
  • Rainwater collected in the crevices are used by travelers and locals for many purposes and for drinking water as well.
  • Used as man-made reservoirs in the rainy seasons. (the tree centers are hollowed out)
  • They are utilized by honey bees in Africa for making hives.
  • The fibrous barks are used for making mats and ropes, fishing lines, sacks, fishing nets and even clothing.


 BAOBAB Health Benefits

Baobab fruit has been used in traditional healing in Africa for the treatment of many ailments like fever, malaria, asthma, smallpox, and diarrhea. The fruit is used for treating inflammation.

Baobab fruit is an excellent calcium, pectins, vitamin C and iron source.

  • A great antioxidant source and is said to inhibit aging processes
  • Protection from cardiovascular diseases and cancer 
  • Effective protection from inflammation that accompanies arthritis and allergies and heart ailments
  • Many hair care,  skin-care, body-care and other products for personal care contain the baobab oil that is extracted from baobab seed.
  • Studies have revealed baobab fruit seeds have essential  acids beneficial to  the skin
  • Baobab tree leaves possess antihistamine properties and are used for bladder and kidney ailments
  • Fatigue
  • Guinea worm
  • Insect Bites

Infusions prepared flowers and leaves of the baobab are effective in curing eye inflammation respiratory and digestive tract problems.

  1. A paste made from Baobab seeds treats gum and tooth diseases
  2. The gum from the bark cleanses sores. Baobab bark is used in steam baths for fevers
  3. The bark when boiled in water is taken internally for treatment of body aches.
  4. The tree is used to repel insects. 
  5. Manufacture soaps
  6. Culinary - leaves are consumed as a vegetable. Sprouts of baobab trees consumed as asparagus
  7. Roots are edible
  8. Seeds used as a substitute for coffee
  9. The fruit pulp of white powdery substance is edible, it makes a refreshing drink and is made into a flavorful porridge
  10. The wood is used as a salt substitute
  11. Tree pith used in place of cream of tartar for curdling milk, baking or smoked fish.



    1.  "Weavers breeding in baobabs". Animal Demography Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa
    2.  Chadare, F. J.; et al. (2009). "Baobab food products: a review on their composition and nutritional value". Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 49 (3): 254–74. 
    3.  Baum DA, Small RL, Wendel JF (1998). "Biogeography and floral evolution of baobabs (Adansonia, Bombacaceae) as inferred from multiple data sets" (PDF). Syst Biol. 47 (2): 181–207.


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