You probably remember the book “The Little Prince”. If so, you have the baobab tree in mind. It was the trees that had to be taken care not to grow too much because they could destroy the planet. But the amazing baobab tree is the opposite. This typical Madagascar plant is revered as the “tree of life” because of its privileged longevity. It can live up to 1,000 years.
The magic tree
The Africans call it “magic tree”, “pharmacy tree” or “tree of life”. The name baobab tree is derived from the Arabic “bu-hibab” (fruit of the many seeds). It grows in the driest areas of Africa. And it’s used as the main ingredient in sauces and energy drinks.
Once the baobab fruit has dried, the pulp can be eaten naturally. In African culture, this part of the fruit is used to relieve various intestinal disorders such as diarrhea, gas, or abdominal pain. On the other hand, antiseptic essential oils can be extracted from the soil or dried baobab leaves. You can also prepare infusions or herbal teas.
Baobab contains calcium and magnesium, which are necessary to strengthen bones. For this reason, it is recommended to include this African ingredient in diets for the prevention of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis. Its high potassium content also makes baobab a quick source of energy.
The baobab fruit contains a high nutritional value. It contains six times more vitamin C than oranges and twice as much calcium as milk. It contains high concentrations of B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and antioxidants. Until recently, only Africans who ate fresh fruit or pulp benefited from these nutrients. Only a few outside of the continent could enjoy its unmistakable hard taste. Lucy Welford from PhytoTrade Africa describes it as “Halfway between grape, pear and vanilla”.
A bright future
Now the baobab tree is intended for shops in Europe and as an ingredient in jams and pepper sauces. Over time, it will be found in granola bars and smoothies. The European Union has approved the sale of baobab food. In Malawi, women are already collecting the fruit for commercial purposes. That way, they earn enough to pay for their children’s school. Experts estimate an international market with a potential of 700 million euros per year. «The amazing baobab tree is evolving from a domestic activity to a consumer industry, ”explains Malcolm Riley. It belongs to the English jam company Yozuma, which specializes in African ingredients. His clients include a large UK grocery chain.
Perhaps the little prince should be refuted. And explain that the baobab tree’s roots must grow freely in order to never disappear.