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Information about: Baobab

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Baobab, or Monkey-Bread Tree. A tree belonging to the natural order (or sub-order) Bombaceae, and the only known species of its genus, which was named after the naturalist Adanson. It is one of the largest of trees, its trunk sometimes attaining a diameter of thirty feet; as the profusion of leaves and drooping boughs sometimes almost hides the stem, the whole forms a hemispherical mass of verdure fifteen to sixty feet in diameter and sixty to seventy feet high. It is a native of western Africa, and is found also in Abyssinia; it is cultivated in many of the warmer parts of the world. The roots are of extraordinary length, a tree seventy-seven feet in girth having a tap­root one hundred ten feet in length. The leaves are deep green, divided into five unequal parts, lanceolate in shape, and radiating from a common center. The flowers resemble the white poppy, having snowy petals and violet-colored stamens; the fruit, which is large and of an oblong shape, is said to taste like gingerbread, with a pleasant acid flavor. The wood is pale-colored, light and soft. The tree is liable to be attacked by a fungus, which, vegetating in the woody part, renders it soft and pith-like. The baobab is emollient and mucilaginous; the pulverized leaves constitute lala, which the natives mix with their daily food to diminish excessive perspiration, and which is even used by Europeans in fevers and diarrhoeas. The expressed juice of the fruit is used as a cooling drink in putrid fevers, and also as a seasoning for various foods.