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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Meet the ancient megatrees of arid lands


In Burkino Faso and Tanzania, folklore has it that the tree wouldn't stop walking, so God planted it with root-feet in the air and branches underground. A Zimbabwean version has it that God inverted the tree in anger when he couldn't get a drink out of it.

It's no surprise that the mighty baobab attracts such legends. Various Adansonia species grow in arid regions of Africa, Madagascar and Australia and have provided resources for humans for thousands of years. Each can store up to 100,000 litres of water in its bloated trunk, so that Zimbabwean god was unlucky not to get a drink. The baobab's fruit is known as "monkey bread" and is apparently rich in vitamin C.

These shots were taken in Madagascar by Canadian photographer Elaine Ling. For an idea of scale, look at the man in the photo in the lower-right photo (above) – the trees can grow up to 30 metres tall.

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