Vibrant African Markets in Baobab Country

Vibrant african markets in baobab country

As always in West Africa, people usually dress in vibrant colors, especially the women. It’s a beautiful sight to see. Around Boukombé, the markets are the most animated during the dry season. People are not otherwise occupied with agricultural labor, and harvests are in, so there is plenty to buy. The temperature that time of the year can be HOT…read more of this lovely blog article here

 

 

Baobab pods in Germany!

Polished and decorated baobab pods found in Germany! Seen at a stand selling exotic seeds, dried flowers and pods from around the world at the Kornelimunster Historische Jahrmarkt in Aachen. What a surprise!

Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Pan: where rock, salt and baobabs meet

In the 16 000 sq km of  Makgadikgadi Pan (Botswana) lies an isolated dry granite rock island 10 metres high, forming a roughly 1km long crescent shape called Kubu Island. The entire island is a national monument, and is considered a sacred site by the indigenous people of the area.  The almost white rocks (covered in fossilised guano) share space with gigantic fantastically shaped baobabs as well as ancient ruins, Here, a lone baobab emerges from rocks and stones like a sentinel looking over the expanse of the dry saltpan .  

 

 

Beautiful Baobabs: one of the oldest living things in the world

it's on the New York Best Seller List and has been described as a "Beautiful and powerful work at the intersection of fine art, science, and philosophy, spanning seven continents and exploring issues of deep time, permanence and impermanence, and the interconnectedness of life, Rachel Sussman has written a wonderful book "The Oldest Living Things in The World"  And of course it's no surprise that she would include our very own magnificant and ancient living treasures. Pictured here, a Baobab tree in Parfuri,  Kruger National Park is dated as possibly as old as 2000 years!

Measuring Baobab girth

It feels a bit like when you mark off the height of your children on the doorpost, but every year in May Diana Mayne, a baobab colleague, and I visit Skelmwater Baobab research plot to do annual growth measurements. This research plot was started in 1931 to measure the annual diameter growth of baobabs. This year was the 83rd measurement and most of the trees got a bit wider due to the good rains, but some years if its very dry, the trees shrink. This little tree is the smallest tree on the plot.

Waiting for the baobab fruit to drop

The area has had lovely late rains, but this has affected our normal fruit harvesting time.  Normally all the fruit would have fallen to the ground by now and been picked up by our harvesters, but this year more than half of them are still on the trees.  So we are waiting for the fruit to drop off the trees… you can't hurry nature! 

2014 Jun: Coppicing Baobabs

When baobabs are still young they are vulnerable to damage.  This young baobab was damaged at the base, but it was helped to survive by coppicing (sprouting).  After a few years most of the coppice shoots die but two or three remain leaving the tree to develop into a multistemed tree which you can clearly see in the photo of the adult tree. 

2014 Jun: Baobablets Abound!

I went to visit Blessing to see how her seedlings are getting on.  Blessing’s seedlings are looking lovely.  They were planted in Feburary this year just after a community training workshop on how to grow baobabs.  Soon the seedlings will lose their leaves for the winter and look like sticks and then in the spring the baobablets will push out new leaves using the nutrition stored in a small underground tuber.  

Miracle Tree!

A few years ago I was called by a local farmer to see some baobabs that were very ill and dying.  There was a group of four baobabs, some of them were still standing and others had already collapsed in to a heap of fibre.  This tree was still standing, but was hot and ‘sweaty’ with droplets on its bark, almost as if it had a fever and I did not think it was going to survive.  This year I visited the site again and found the tree well recovered. They really are remarkably sturdy and resiliant trees!  After decades of living with them and many many years of studying them, I still see there's so much more to learn and wish we understood these trees better…

Which side of the tree are you on?

Which side of the fence, I mean tree, are you on?

Baobabs make fantastic poster boards and on a recent field trip I photographed this tree.  On the one side is a poster of Jacob Zuma (ANC) and on the other side is Julius Malema (EFF).  Tough Choice! 

Ecotrade empowers many women…

…and Annah Mendela is just one of them. After being inspired by previous films made in collaboration with PhytoTrade and EcoProducts, Greg Cameron has created this warm and sensitve portrait of Annah, showing how by collecting baobab fruit for EcoProducts, she has been able to turn her life around.  A short 2.5 minute film that's so beautifully made it will stay with you long after you've watched it. [vimeo id=”9605224″ align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]

 

How baobab’s heal themselves…

Recently, friend and baobab fan Shona sent through this delightful photo taken near Xigera Reserve, Okavango Delta in April this year.  It shows their guide pointing out elephant damage to a baobab tree.  It’s old elephant damage and you can see in the picture how the wound has healed over with new bark.  It’s quite wonderful how baobabs manage to heal themselves in an almost human way by growing new “skin”….

shona's guide Dips - Okavango - showing elephant damage April 2014 350 x 469

 

Baobab Galerie: a unique shop

Baobab Galerie is a unique decor and gift shop in Port Edward, KZN selling an exquisite handmade range of products made of natural fibres such as sisal, raffia, different varieties of reeds and grasses as well as recycled recycled paper and metal.  Alexandre and Michel who own the shop have long been interested in Baobabs, even growing baobab trees, hence the shop name.  The feature of the shop is a 2 meter high metal baobab made from recycled oil drum made by a craftsman in Madagascar and naturally they're now selling Baobab oil, boabab fruit powder and home-made baobab jam!  Their shop is so successful a new shop will be opening soon in Mattison Square between Leisure Bay and Port Edward. Look out for it next time you travel that way.

EcoProducts is out and about in May!

We are HAPPENING this month in the media!  We have an article on baobab oil in Wellness Magazine, our boabab fruit powder is featured in Elle Magazine and we're flying with Mango in their latest inflight magazine! All power to the baobab tree! 

Famous Baobabs: Chapman’s Baobab

This well-known tree has many documented references to it in the journals of early travellers and foreign explorers to the region, many of whom left inscriptions on its massive trunk which can still be seen today. The tree even served as an unofficial post office for these 19th-century explorers.

Dung Beetles and Baobabs

Baobab seeds are relatively large,but it's not an impossibility that that germinating Baobab seedlings could use the manure buried by dung beetles to boost the growth of its first few shoots!

Famous Baobabs: A Champion of Trees – The Sagole Baobab

Champion trees are nationally listed individual trees which are exceptional examples of their species because of their enormous size, great age, rarity or historical significance. One of the South African champion trees is the Sagole Baobab Tree, located in Vendaland, Limpopo Province, with a trunk diameter of 10.47 metres. It may not be the stoutest of baobab trees (The Sunland and Glencoe Baobabs have larger girths) but the Sagole tree has the largest size of all with a height of 22 metres and a crown diamter of 38.2 metres.  

The tree has been carbon dated as being 1200 years old! 

The Sagole tree is also noted for being home to a rare colony of Mottled Spinetails. Here are two of my own pictures of the Sagole Tree – showing it with and without leaves.  How magnificant it is! 

Beautiful Baobabs in Africa

The reason EcoProducts exists is to celebrate the Baobab tree - not only for its many gifts - but also simply because it's beautiful. We've found some gorgeous images of Baobab Trees to share with you.

It’s been a good year – baobab harvesters

The area where baobabs are found is usually very arid and the climate not easy to grow crops in.  Many of the harvesters with whom I work have fields around their villages where they do dry-land cropping for food and to supplement income.  Dry-land cropping means that there is no irrigated water to the fields and they have to rely on rainfall.  The best grain crops to survive these conditions are sorghum and millet.  Even these crops often fail, but this year has been an exception with excellent rainfall through the area.  It was rare to see the fields around the villages so green and lush.

 

2014 Mar: Baobab seedling in the wild – will it survive?

I always get excited when I see baobab seedlings emerging from the earth near or under the baobab trees.  It shows that the seeds are viable and that the weather was perfect.  Unfortunately their survival is very slim because of the harsh climate they need to survive in and because they are simply too delicious for a goat to ignore. This is why a conservation program for Baobab trees is so important.  Read our recent post here on what we're doing to help conserve Baobabs. 

 

 

Local headman and I chat about baobabs

 

One of the wonderful things about my job is that it is so varied, from production, to resource monitoring to community friendships.  Our relationship with the harvesters starts with the headman in each village.  I have had a relationship with some of the village headmen for over 10 years now.  I always love visiting them and we always end up talking about our favorite trees.  Here, Mr Gadabeni and I are being dwarfed by a baobab near his village.

 

Ecoproducts and Esse support rural crèche

One of the villages where some of our harvesters live has a little crèche which is so needed while mothers go out to work.  Yet they have so very little in the way of even basic resources for busy, active, growing little children.   Recently on one of my monitoring trips, I was able to take some chairs and tables to the little ones in the crèche.  Pink for girls and blue for boys. These were kindly donated by Esse Organic Skin Care (who use our organic baobab powder in their cosmetics).  Lots of smiles all round – thanks Esse!