Baobab is the common name of a genus of trees Adansonia. There are nine species. Six species live in the drier parts of Madagascar, two in mainland Africa, and one in Australia. The baobab is the national tree of Madagascar.
The baobab is probably the best known tree in Africa. Its thick, grey, fibrous trunk and large, spreading crown, seasonally devoid of foliage, are instantly recognizable. Baobabs are extremely long-lived, with some specimens believed to be as much as 3,000 years old. The trees reach heights of 5 to 30 meters and trunk diameters of 7 to 11 meters . Its trunk can hold up to 120,000 liters of water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air.
Known as ‘The Tree of Life’, baobab is an icon of the African savannah, a symbol of life and positivity in a landscape where little else can thrive.
The Baobab tree has digitate (hand-shaped) leaves, and ovoid fruit, with a hard wooden shell covered in yellowish-green velvety hairs. Inside its shell, the fruit contains a number of seeds, embedded in a whitish, powdery pulp. Baobab trees have been highly valued since early human history for their delicious fruit, which is high in moisture, vitamin C, and other nutrients. The seeds of these large fruits are the source of the precious oil, which is used for cooking, as a skin emollient, and as a hair moisturizer.
Like other naturally-derived oils, baobab oil is comprised of a mixture of fatty acids and vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and F, saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The fatty acid profile in baobab oil is somewhat unique in that it contains relatively equal proportions of saturated to monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fat. Depending upon where the tree is grown and the specific soil and climate conditions in the area, the fatty acid composition will vary somewhat.