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  • Context(DTE): The Global Society for the Preservation of Baobabs and Mangroves (GSPBM) has launched an effort to rejuvenate the iconic baobab trees.
  • Context (DTE): The study reveals that seeds and seedlings of Baobab trees floated to mainland Africa and Australia from Madagascar.

Our beautiful planet: Africa's tree of life – DW – 09/01/2017

Credits: Baobab trees

  • Out of eight species, six are found in Madagascar, one in Africa (Adansonia digitata) and one in Australia (Adansonia gregorii).
  • They started evolving to form a distinct species around 21 million years ago in Madagascar. Two of these species travelled to Africa and Australia before those lineages went extinct in Madagascar.
  • The role of elephants in spreading their seeds is also noteworthy.
  • Elephants eat baobab seeds. Many baobab seeds pass through elephants undamaged and are deposited in piles of dung at distant sites.

Role of polyploidy

  • Polyploidy is a process that genetically isolates the plant from its parents. Unlike most animals, plants can self-pollinate to increase their numbers. A rare genetic mistake can generate a new species.
  • The new polyploid baobab is then likely to have become the dominant species of Africa, replacing its parent lineages across the continent.

About the Baobab trees

  • Baobabs are tall trees with wide trunks and compact tops.
  • People call them the “upside-down tree” because of their unusual appearance.
  • It is called “Tree of Life” because they can store lots of water in their trunks.This helps them survive in dry areas and produce fruit even in tough times.
  • Baobabs have been around for millions of years, even before humans and continents separated.
  • Baobabs are native to the African continent.
  • There are nine kinds of baobab trees. Most are in Africa and Madagascar, with a few in Australia.
  • In India, they’re found mainly in Mandu, Madhya Pradesh. Historically, the Bhil tribe has been responsible for preserving these trees.
  • Baobab trees can live for thousands of years.
  • Baobabs are a keystone species capable of supporting a wide diversity of animals for food and shelter.
  • They can reach huge dimensions (depending on the species) in both height and diameter.
  • The largest species can tower above the understorey vegetation.
  • African baobabs are like “Home Tree” in the movie Avatar, not only because of their size but also because they support such a huge variety of life.
  • The massive trunks are hollow cylinders of low-quality wood containing many water-filled living cells.
  • The water-filled cells of the trunk generate a hydrostatic pressure that gives the tree strength.
  • In dry seasons, trees are damaged or destroyed as elephants strip the bark to extract water.
  • Baobab flowers are large and have evolved alongside large nocturnal, sugar-eating animals like hawk moths, fruit bats and the lemurs of Madagascar.
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