Why in news?
The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, planted a Baobab sapling in the gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan on April 3, 2018.
This sapling was gifted by the University of Madagascar as a gesture of goodwill in return for the Neem tree that the President planted at the University campus in Antananarivo during his State visit to Madagascar in March 2018.
Significance of the act:
The Baobab has high medicinal and nutritional value, much like the Neem tree.
The exchange of these plants (Baobab and Neem) shows how both India and Madagascar, attach importance to traditional medicines in their respective cultures.
Characteristics of the tree:
The Baobab tree has a life span of over 2000 years. It is high in medicinal and nutritional properties, quite like the Neem tree. The exchange of these plants spotlights the value both India and Madagascar attach to traditional knowledge and medicine in their respective cultures.
A baobab is any of nine species of deciduous tree in the genus Adansonia, found in arid regions of Madagascar, mainland Africa, Arabia, and Australia. The generic name honours Michel Adanson, the French naturalist and explorer who described Adansonia digitata.
Of the nine species, six are native to Madagascar, two are native to mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and one is native to Australia. One of the mainland African species also occurs on Madagascar, but it is not a native of that island. It was introduced in ancient times to south Asia and during the colonial era to the Caribbean.
It is also present in the island nation of Cape Verde.
The ninth species was described in 2012, and is found in upland populations of southern and eastern Africa.
The African and Australian baobabs are almost identical despite having separated more than 100 million years ago, probably by oceanic dispersal.
Baobabs store water in the trunk (up to 120,000 litres or 32,000 US gallons) to endure harsh drought conditions.
All occur in seasonally arid areas, and are deciduous, shedding their leaves during the dry season.
In Africa too, the baobab tree is of great significance. People in many African countries use the Baobab to treat malaria and infertility. In recent times the Baobab being considered as a "superfood".
In the European markets, Baobab powder is very popular;
It is used to make porridge and smoothies. Nutritionists claim Baobab has high levels of vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous and antioxidants.