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Baobab, the 'upside-down' tree

Adansonia digitata is a deciduous tree that can live for many thousands of years, growing up to 30 meters high and 15 meters in diameter. Baobab, as it is more commonly known, can be traced back to the the Egyptians, where inscriptions on bark have been found and identified.Baobab trees are native to Africa, Madagascar, and Australia, and are often referred to as the "upside down tree" because its branches look like roots sticking up into the air. In Africa, every part of the baobab tree is sustainably used for food and medicinal applications — from the leaves to the roots — and as such it is often referred to as ‘the tree of life.’The tree enjoys a huge folklore covering almost all of Africa. In West Africa, spirits are believed to inhabit the flowers and locals believe a lion will devour anyone rash enough to pluck a flower. In Tanzania it is considered dangerous to suck a seed of the baobab in crocodile country (because doing so is believed to attract crocodiles), while in Zambia, washing seeds in rivers offers protection against crocodiles. Another belief is that drinking an infusion of the bark will make you mighty and strong. In southern Nigeria the baobab tree is worshipped as a fertility symbol, and people still marry beneath its branches.The fruit of the baobab tree is large and quite heavy with a velvety shell. It can be up to 18 cm long, approximately the size of a coconut. Its many seeds are found around a vitamin-rich pulp. The pulp has a long history as a food source and has been used to treat a number of medical conditions in Africa. The leaves too are used as a vegetable, and the seeds are roasted and eaten. The seeds can also be ground up to release the seed oil, and are used as an edible vegetable oil. This oil has been used traditionally by African women for centuries to protect their skin and hair against the harsh African climate. EarthOil has been sourcing baobab oil for more than 10 years, originally sourcing the seeds from the Zambezi valley but more recently from the coastal plains, and also from South Africa where the seeds are sourced organically.

How the oil is produced

Because baobabs are not yet a commercially grown crop, they are hand harvested in more remote regions and then collected by rural collection groups. These collection groups work in the forests collecting the large seed pods and then remove the seeds from the "cream of tartar-style" pulp that surrounds the seeds. This filling is high in vitamin C and is a popular treat in East African markets. EarthOil’s supply partner cold presses the hard seed at its processing facility to produce a golden oil.

Uses and benefits of baobab oil

Baobab oil is high in vitamin C and D and has omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids. It is a relatively oxidatively stable oil. This stability comes from the presence of natural antioxidants in the oil, as the composition of the oil (high in unsaturated fatty acids) would normally lead to susceptibility to oxidation. The oil has strong moisturizing properties for both skin and hair and is reputed to help skin elasticity. The oil is easily and quickly absorbed by the skin, leaving no oiliness or greasiness.

Contact EarthOil for more information

EarthOil specializes in smallholding producer projects in remote areas. We can help you access these communities and be part of their growth and development. EarthOil welcomes visitors to its projects and encourages opportunities to meet the people and see firsthand the communities where we operate.

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