trees are common symbols of Gambia. The tree is also
known as the Monkey bread tree, Ethiopian sour gourd,
Cream of tartar tree, Senegal calabash (fruit), upside-down
tree. Very uniquely shaped, with root-like branches
a fat trunk specializing in water storage and surviving
bush fires, these trees can remain alive for well over
a thousand years.
The Baobab fruit, dark green or brown on the outside
when ripe, is edible and commonly used in juices, ices,
and porridge. Break it open by pounding it against a
hard object. The insides will expose white fruit with
black seeds that are slightly larger than peas.
is a soft fruit, ranging from a bit moist to dry and
chalky, melting in your mouth. For making tasty juice
and ices, soak the fruit in water for a few hours to
separate it from the seeds and the root-like veins.
Mix the fruit in fresh water with sugar and milk; freezing
The history of known references to African baobab is
well documented. The Gambian baobab is a very long-lived
tree with multipurpose uses. It is thought that some
trees are over 1000 years old. Since it is not grown
agriculturally nor is it properly domesticated, there
are no known varieties; earlier attempts to describe
some on the basis of fruit differences are not now accepted.
Uses of the Baobab Tree:
making tasty juice and ices, soak the fruit in water
for a few hours to separate it from the seeds and the
root-like veins. Mix the fruit in fresh water with sugar
and milk; freezing is optional.
Improved nutrition through promotion of baobab requires
attention being paid to local methods of processing
e.g. of leaf powders mixed with local alkaline rock
salts, or careful storage of dry the pulp. There are
many NGOs involved with women and nutrition that can
take on this role.
Much of the enhanced use of baobab is low level knowledge
dissemination. For instance, to retain vitamin C in
soft drinks it is important not to boil the pulp but
to add the powder to previously boiled water. To retain
high levels of pro-vitamin A in dried leaves it is important
to dry the leaves in the shade and not in full sun.
Also for storage it is recommended to store dried whole
leaves rather than leaf powder.
Wild trees are chosen with a desired quality and seedlings,
occasionally cuttings, are transplanted to fields near
homes where they can receive 'protection'. Leaf production
is a major challenge due to its seasonality. Production
from protected trees does not meet local needs, hence
collecting from the wild. Irrigation can extend the
leaf production and the local black bark type responds
well to this.
Selection for seed production and use of seeds due to
their advantages in nutrition has not been a traditional
practice. Also selection of types with fruit pulp with
higher vitamin C content is now underway in Mali, but
it remains to be seen how this can be transferred through
extension. Traditionally leaf production can be increased
through pollarding. It could be that genotypes may be
selected to increase leaf production in trees in more
remote areas. Also height of tree presents constraints
in gathering fruits and accidents are not at all uncommon.
Grafting presents an opportunity to reduce this risk.
Scientific name: Adansonia digitata