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Tropical Dream Center

African Baobab

About Baobab

A type of deciduous tree which is tall and is found in Africa.
There are 12 known types of Baobabs, which are found in Africa, Madagascar, India and Australia.
It is a plant that is said to have a trunk that grows to be the widest in the world.
According to references, there are African Baobabs that have trunks with a diameter of 19.7 - 32.8 ft. and a height of over 65.6 ft. Some of these trees are more than 5,000 years old. The word Baobab in Senegal apparently means “tree of a thousand years”.

Baobab, which is known to be an useful tree, has leaves rich in protein which are used as a vegetable or a food preservative food, fruits rich in vitamin C which can be eaten raw or used as an ingredient to make juice, and bark which is sometimes stripped off to build the walls of a house. As described above, it can be used in many ways such as for food, medication, and building material, and therefore, it is also called the “tree of treasure”.

About 250 million years ago, the current continents such as Africa, Australia, South America and India formed one continent called Gondwana land. Due to crustal deformation of approximately 150 million years ago, the current landform was created. It is presumed that this crustal deformation may be the reason why Baobabs are found in many locations such as Africa, Madagascar and India.

The Baobab became famous as the tree that appears in the “The Little Prince” written by Saint-Exupery. The story that talks about how “the Baobab was feared because it would become huge and damage the stars unless the leaf buds were diligently pulled out”.

※This picture is displayed to help imagine how the Baobab grows under natural circumstances. This Baobab is a type called Adansonia grandidieri photographed by our staff in Madagascar.

Growth in the Tropical Dream Center

Seeds were brought back from Maidan Park in Kolkata, India in December 1979 and planted in the Tropical Dream Center. The five grown in the garden and relocated to the Africa Zone within the Dream Center between 1983 and 1984 have grown to be about 32.8 ft. tall. Though the first buds appeared in July 1996, they were blown off by a typhoon.

On August 28, 1998 there were buds again, and on September 27 it bloomed for the first time in Japan. However, the Tropical Dream Center was struck by another typhoon that year also, and the flowers were blown off again.

The following year on the morning of July 25, 1999, blossoming was confirmed again and hand pollination was conducted with another tree that was also blooming, culminating in the first seed setting in Japan.

About a month after the pollination, a fruit of about 3 inches was confirmed. This was widely reported in Okinawa as well as in other prefectures as a brilliant achievement in Japan.
Learning from the experience of the previous years, countermeasures to typhoons were taken by setting a net to prevent the fruit from falling, and as a result succeeded in picking fruit the size of a rugby ball with a longitudinal diameter of 11 inches, lateral diameter of 3.5 inches, width circumference of 11 inches and dry weight of 0.7 pounds.

Recent reports of blossoming and fruition at the Dream Center

Fruition Report

The blossoms of the Baobab usually start around 7:00pm. The bud that becomes yellowish the previous day with a diameter of about 2.5 inches starts to slowly open from the bottom in a shape of a star, and white flower pedals begin to appear. Then the flower pedals visibly roll back, and spherical stamens appear from the inside and the pistil stretches out from between the stamens, and it is in full bloom in just a few minutes. For just a short period of time after it is in full bloom, it secretes sweet syrup in order to attract insects that help pollination. The following evening, the petal starts to discolor and it ends its short life as a flower in just a couple of days.

At the Tropical Dream Center, blossoming was confirmed last year on July 2, 2009. It is the 5th blossoming in succession since last year.

The latest blossoming was confirmed on December 26, 2009. In a period of a little over 5 months, there were a total of 312 buds confirmed, of which 251 successfully bloomed. During that period, although there were some days without any blossoms, sometimes there were as many as 3 buds that came into bloom at once, and blossoming slowly continued pleasing many visitors.

251 flowers that bloomed this time is an outstanding record even at the Tropical Dream Center. It may be due to the fact that no large typhoons have come these few years, fertility management is going well, and in addition, perhaps a result of passion. That’s how it is discussed among the staff members. We are committed to continuing to cultivate with care so that many flowers will bloom this year again.