tree which I assumed is dead, caught my eye as the roadway branched around it along with the bright blue sky we encountered
that day. A leopard asleep in it would have been perfect. Oh, well, we can't have everything
The Umbrella Thorn
Tree has the classic, umbrella-shaped canopy associated with thorn trees. Many bird species take advantage of this protection
and build their nests in the canopy. It is fairly slow growing and reaches a final height of between 9-15 ft with a spread
of 24-40 ft.
is one of the giraffe's favorite trees, the Arcadia.
This tree is full of Weaver Bird nests
is the most common name for this strange looking tree. And no, it is not dead as I first thought. Other common names
include bottle tree, the tree of life, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree.
The species reach heights 16 to 98 ft and trunk diameters of 23 to 36 ft. That’s diameter, not circumference. Its
trunk can hold up to 31,700 gallons of water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has
its roots sticking up in the air.
The trees are long-lived, but just how long is
disputed. The owners of Sunland Farm in Limpopo, South
Africa have built a pub called "The Big Baobab Pub" inside the hollow trunk of the 72
ft high tree. The tree is 155 ft in circumference, and is said to have been carbon dated at over 6,000 years old.
Baobab Tree is known as the tree of life, with good reason. It can provide shelter, clothing, food, and water for the animal
and human inhabitants of the African savannah regions. The cork-like bark and huge stem are fire resistant and are used for
making cloth and rope. The leaves are used as condiments and medicines. The fruit, called "monkey bread", is edible,
and full of Vitamin
The fruit has a velvety shell and is about the
size of a coconut, weighing about 3.2 lb. It has a somewhat acidic flavor, described as 'somewhere between grapefruit, pear, and vanilla.
Unfortunately, I did not get to taste it.
The tree can store thousands of gallons of water,
which is an adaptation to the harsh drought conditions of its environment. The tree may be tapped in dry periods. Mature trees are usually hollow,
providing living space for many animals and humans
The sausage tree of sub-Saharan
Africa is beautiful in flower. The blood-red to maroon flowers hang in long panicles. The fragrance of the flower is not pleasing
to humans but attracts the dwarf epaulet bat, its pollinator. As the flowers drop from the tree, animals come to feed on the
nectar-rich blooms. Impala, duiker, baboons, bush pigs, and lovebirds all feed on the flowers of the Sausage tree.
fruits grow out of these flowers. It was obviously in “sausage” rather than in flower when I was there. These
grey fruits resemble sausages and can grow for months to become up to two feet long and weigh up to 15 lb. The blood-red flowers
of the South African sausage tree bloom at night on long, ropelike stalks that hang down from the limbs of this tropical tree.
The fragrant, nectar-rich blossoms are pollinated by bats, insects and sunbirds in their native habitat. The mature fruits
dangle from the long stalks like giant sausages. The rind of the fruit is used to aid the fermentation of the local brews.
The pods are kept as religious charms and fetishes, and produce a red dye when boiled. Ointment is made from the fruit and
is used to treat skin conditions.
The “sausages” cannot
be eaten but the skin is ground to a pulp and used externally for medicine. Its most important use is for the cure of skin
ailments especially skin cancers. The fruit is burnt to ashes and pounded by a mortar with oil and water to make a paste to
apply to the skin.
Yes, the trees and bushes do have serious thorns. The one on the
left is the Arcadia tree
seems like every time I went to take a photos of an animal or bird, they were either watching me very closely or were headed
in the other direction so I ended up with a lot of eyes ands butts. Decided I may as well make the best of it and devote
a section to those photos.
Butts and Eyes of Africa