Adansonia

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Adansonia
African Baobab (Adansonia digitata) tree in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, near the Kaole ruins
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Rosids
Order:Malvales
Family:Malvaceae
Subfamily:Bombacoideae
Genus:Adansonia
L.[1]
Species

See Species section

 
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Adansonia
African Baobab (Adansonia digitata) tree in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, near the Kaole ruins
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Rosids
Order:Malvales
Family:Malvaceae
Subfamily:Bombacoideae
Genus:Adansonia
L.[1]
Species

See Species section

Adansonia is a genus of eight species of tree, six native to Madagascar, one native to mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and one to Australia. The mainland African species also occurs on Madagascar, but it is not a native of that island.

A typical common name is baobab. Other common names include boab, boaboa, tabaldi, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree. The generic name honours Michel Adanson, the French naturalist and explorer who described A. digitata.

Description

Adansonias reach heights of 5 to 30 m (16 to 98 ft) and have trunk diameters of 7 to 11 m (23 to 36 ft). Glencoe baobab – an African baobab specimen in Limpopo Province, South Africa, often considered the largest example alive – up to recent times had a circumference of 47 m (154 ft).[2] Its diameter is estimated at about 15.9 m (52 ft). Recently the tree split up into two parts and it is possible that the stoutest tree now is Sunland baobab, also in South Africa. The diameter of this tree is 10.64 m (34.9 ft), with an approximate circumference of 33.4 m (110 ft).[citation needed]

Some baobabs are reputed to be many thousands of years old, which is difficult to verify, as the wood does not produce annual growth rings, though radiocarbon dating may be able to provide age data.[citation needed]

Occurrence

The Malagasy species are important components of the Madagascar dry deciduous forests. Within that biome, A. madagascariensis and A. rubrostipa occur specifically in the Anjajavy Forest, sometimes growing out of the tsingy limestone itself.

A. digitata has been photographed growing in salt plains and by the sea, so may be a halophyte (salt tolerant).[3][4]

Species

Water storage

Baobabs store water inside the swollen trunk (up to 120,000 litres / 32,000 US gallons) to endure the harsh drought conditions particular to each region.[6] All occur in seasonally arid areas, and are deciduous, shedding their leaves during the dry season.

Uses

Since 2008, there has been increasing interest for developing baobab seeds or dried fruit powder for consumer products.[7][8] As of 2010, the potential international market was estimated at $1 billion per year.[9]

The tree also provides a source of fiber, dye, and fuel. Indigenous Australians used baobabs as a source of water and food, and used leaves medicinally. They also painted and carved the outside of the fruits and wore them as ornaments. A large, hollow baobab south of Derby, Western Australia was used in the 1890s as a prison for convicts on their way to Derby for sentencing. The Boab Prison Tree, Derby still stands and is now a tourist attraction. There is a similar tree near the Western Australian town of Wyndham.[citation needed]

Leaves

The leaves, eaten fresh or as a powder, are commonly used as a leaf vegetable or a soup ingredient in mainland Africa.[citation needed]

Fruit

The fruit is about 18 cm long

The fruit has a velvety shell and is about the size of a coconut,[9] weighing about 1.44 kilograms (3.2 lb). It has an acidic, tart flavor, described as 'somewhere between grapefruit, pear, and vanilla'.[9][10]

The dried fruit powder contains about 12% water and various nutrients, including carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, potassium and iron.[10][11][12][13]

In Zimbabwe, the fruit has been used in traditional food preparations. According to one source,[9] locals "ate the fruit fresh or crushed the crumbly pulp to stir into porridge and drinks". Malawi women have already set up commercial ventures earning their children's school fees for their harvesting work.[9] In Sudan, it may be moistened in water to make a juice.[citation needed]

Prior to commercial approval, baobab fruit powder was not available in the European Union (EU), as legislation from 1997 dictated that foods not commonly consumed in the EU would have to be formally approved before commercialization. In 2008, the EU authorized the use of baobab dried fruit pulp as a safe ingredient in food products,[14] and in 2009, it was granted GRAS status in the United States.[15]

Food uses

The powdery white interior may be used as a "thickener in jams and gravies, a sweetener for fruit drinks, or a tangy flavor addition to hot sauces."[9][12] The dry fruit pulp, separated from seeds and fibers, is eaten directly or mixed into porridge or milk, and is also known as "monkey's bread". The dry fruit pulp may be covered in sugary coating (usually with red coloring) and sold in packages as a sweet and sour candy.[citation needed]

The dry pulp is either eaten fresh or added to gruels. In Tanzania, it is added to aid fermentation of sugar cane for beer making.[16] Pulp can be stored for beverage production, but it needs airtight containers. Storage is improved by the use of sodium metabisulphite.[citation needed] It can also be frozen if ground to a powder. In Asia, it is an ingredient in a carbonated soda called Baobab Pepsi described as having a citrus taste.[17]

Seeds

Baobab in Recife, Brazil

In the coastal areas of Kenya, baobab seeds are cooked with sugar, colored, and sold as a snack. The seeds are mostly used as a thickener for soups, but may also be fermented into a seasoning, roasted for direct consumption, or pounded to extract vegetable oil.[citation needed]

Culture and myths

Gallery

References

  1. ^ "Genus: Adansonia L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United State Department of Agriculture. 2008-11-12. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/genus.pl?167. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  2. ^ "Big Baobab Facts". Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. http://www.bigbaobab.co.za/baobab.html. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  3. ^ http://www.arkive.org/baobab/adansonia-digitata/image-G50349.html – Baobab growing in a salt plain (access date 2010-07-19)
  4. ^ http://www.mail-archive.com/indiantreepix@googlegroups.com/msg08234.html – Baobabs growing close to the sea (access date 2010-07-19)
  5. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Adansonia". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United State Department of Agriculture. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/splist.pl?167. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  6. ^ "The Baobab tree in Senegal". Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. http://www.senegal-online.com/anglais/parcs-faune-flore/baobab.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  7. ^ "Scientists predict African fruit trees could help solve major public health problem". Bioversity International. http://news.bioversityinternational.org/index.php?itemid=1166. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  8. ^ Hills S. "Baobab goes for GRAS ahead of 2010 World Cup" FoodNavigator.com-USA, September 30, 2008
  9. ^ a b c d e f Lange, Karen E. (August 2010). "Vitamin Tree". National Geographic (from magazine, also online). http://blogs.ngm.com/blog_central/2010/08/vitamin-tree.html. Retrieved 1 June 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Herbal Sciences International Ltd (2006). "Baobab dried fruit pulp – An application for novel foods approval in the EU as a food ingredient". UK Food Standards Agency. http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/baobabapplicationfinal.pdf. Retrieved June 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ Osman MA (2004). "Chemical and nutrient analysis of baobab (Adansonia digitata) fruit and seed protein solubility". Plant Foods Hum Nutr 59 (1): 29-33. PMID 15675149. 
  12. ^ a b "New exotic fruit to hit UK shops". BBC. 2008-07-15. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7506997.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  13. ^ Chadare FJ, Linnemann AR, Hounhouigan JD, Nout MJ, Van Boekel MA (2009). "Baobab food products: a review on their composition and nutritional value". Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 49 (3): 254-74. PMID 19093269. 
  14. ^ "Baobab dried fruit pulp". UK Food Standards Agency. 2008. http://acnfp.food.gov.uk/assess/fullapplics/baobab. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Agency Response Letter GRAS Notice No. GRN 000273". Fda.gov. http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/GenerallyRecognizedasSafeGRAS/GRASListings/ucm174945.htm. 
  16. ^ http://www.baobab.kansaspalms.com M. Sidibe and J. T. Williams 2002. Baobab International Centre for Underutilised Crops, University of Southampton
  17. ^ Newzjapan
  18. ^ Fancy a pint in the world's only bar that's INSIDE a tree?, Daily Mail, December 2007 Retrieved 20 December 2007
  19. ^ Of all the gin joints in all the world, Tristan McConnell in the Big Baobab Pub, Modjadjiskloof, South Africa, The Times, January 2007, Retrieved 20 December 2007

Further reading

  • Baum, D. A.; Small, R. L.; Wendel, J. F. (1998). "Biogeography and floral evolution of baobabs (Adansonia, Bombacaceae) as inferred from multiple data sets". Systematic Biology 47 (2): 181–207. doi:10.1080/106351598260879. PMID 12064226. 
  • Braun, K. (1900) Beiträge zur Anatomie der Adansonia digitata L. F. Reinhardt, Universitäts-Buchdruckerei, Basel, OCLC 15926986
  • Colin, Tudge (2006, 2005). The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter (1st U.S. ed.). New York, NY: Crown Publishers. ISBN 1-4000-5036-7. OCLC 64336118. 
  • Lowe, Pat. The Boab Tree. Port Melbourne, Australia: Lothian. ISBN 0-85091-912-6. OCLC 39079651. 
  • Pakenham, Thomas (2004). The Remarkable Baobab (1st American ed.). New York, NY: Norton. ISBN 0-393-05989-8. OCLC 56844554. 
  • Watson, Rupert (2007). The African Baobab. Cape Town, South Africa; London, England: Struik; New Holland. ISBN 978-1-77007-430-9. OCLC 163617611. 
  • Wickens, G. E.; Lowe, Pat (2008). The Baobabs: Pachycauls of Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Berlin, Germany; New York, NY: Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-1-4020-6430-2. OCLC 166358049.