If you travel in the remote deserts of Australia, Africa or Madagascar, you may from time to time spot a solitary tree that looks as if it is growing upside-down, with gnarled roots sitting atop a huge, smooth, trunk. It is well worth taking a closer look at this oddity, which is one of the oldest and strangest living things on our planet. In keeping with its unusual characteristics, it has a weird-sounding name – the baobab, which is probably derived from a native African language.
It is perhaps an exaggeration to say that baobabs are beautiful. Indeed, many people’s first reaction is to giggle at their strange shapes and proportions. With their massive trunks, crooked branches and furry fruit, baobabs have learned how to adapt to a dry and hostile environment – a capacity we may come to envy as the planet starts to heat up.