Some of Africa's oldest and biggest baobob trees have died

The iconic tree can live to be 3,000 years old and
one in Zimbabwe is so large that up to 40 people can shelter inside its trunk

The iconic tree can live to be 3,000 years old and one in Zimbabwe is so large that up to 40 people can shelter inside its trunk

Over the last 12 years, the continent has lost several of its oldest and largest specimens of the African baobab, the most common species in the baobab genus, which is characterized by the trees' short stature, thick trunks and impressive longevity. According to the most conservative estimates, the baobab lives a maximum of about one thousand years, at the same time, there is evidence that the age of a tree with a diameter of 4.5 m, determined by radiocarbon Dating is more than 4500 years.

A study published Monday found eight of the 13 oldest trees in Africa have died over the past decade, and the authors suggest climate change may affect the ability of the baobab to survive. But during their study period, the researchers discovered that the oldest and largest had died.

But Patruts study, which surveys baobabs much more widely, contends that for the oldest trees in particular, the deaths “were not caused by an epidemic.”.

"It is definitely shocking and dramatic to experience during our lifetime the demise of so many trees with millennial ages", said the study's co-author Adrian Patrut of the Babes-Bolyai University in Romania.

The researchers don't know for sure, but they describe the spate of high-profile deaths - the end of trees so grand they each had their own names - is an event of "unprecedented magnitude" that likely points to climate change. With wide, cylindrical trunks and gnarled branches, the trees appear to have been yanked out of the ground, flipped over and shoved back in, roots in the air. The baobab “is famous because it is the biggest angiosperm, and it is the most iconic tree of Africa, ” Patrut said. They are all between 1,000 and more than 2,500 years old.

The tree serves as a massive store of water, and bears fruit that feeds animals and humans.

Whatever the reason is, the death of these trees will have a huge impact in the southern African landscape.

Its leaves, meanwhile, can be boiled and eaten as an accompaniment similar to spinach, or used to make traditional medicines.

"They can be burnt, or stripped of their bark, and they will just form new bark and carry on growing", it notes.

The goal of the study was to learn how the trees become so enormous. "When they do die, they simply rot from the inside and suddenly collapse, leaving a heap of fibers".

“Pretty much every baobab tree in Southern Africa is covered in the healed scars of past elephant attacks, which speaks to the trees unbelievable fix ability, ” said David Baum, a University of Wisconsin botanist who is familiar with the new study and contributed to a recent Biodiversity International publication cataloguing the trees attributes, in an email. Often seen towering over other plants around, baobabs are somewhat of a tourist attraction in the region.

The iconic trees can reach almost 2,000 years of age.

Notícias recomendadas

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.