Tuesday, January 12

The Baobab Tree in Egypt

The Latin name for Baobab, Adansonia digitata, is in honour of the French botanist, Michel Adanson, who concluded that out of all the trees he had studied, the Baobab, ‘is probably the most useful tree in all’.

Although the tree is not native to Egypt, the fruit was known in the herb and spice markets of Cairo as early as 2500 BC. It was known as ‘bu hobab’, probably derived from the Arabic words ‘bu hibab’, which means ‘fruit with many seeds’.

The medicinal uses of the Baobab fruit were first officially praised by the Venetian herbalist and physician Prospero Alpini, in 1592, who noted that the ancient Egyptians used it for treating fevers, dysentery and bloody wounds. Known as the "Upside-down tree", the "Bottle tree" for its ability to hold water, or simply as the "Tree of life".

The baobab normally lives for about 500 years, but it is believed some are up to 6,000 years old and carries its own mystical identity and history that is traditionally accorded to age in Africa.

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