The baobab trees of Madagascar

The baobab trees of Madagascar

Now David Attenborough has sprinkled his TV magic on the island of Madagascar we suspect the destination will see a serious hike in arrivals. If you caught the series you know the drill - separated from Africa and India as the continents gradually drifted apart, but large and diverse enough to have harboured several distinct ecosystems, Madagascar is a biologist's boon.


3/4s of Baobabs prefer Madagascar

And while the lemur in all its glorious variations has become the Madagascan equivalent of the finch in the Galapagos, adapted to suit very specific environmental circumstances, we think it's another endemic species that steals the limelight - the huge and mysterious Madagascan baobab trees. Six of the eight distinct species of baobab are endemic to the island, and utterly fascinating.


Mystery tree

The baobabs have an almost other-worldy, spiritual quality to them, in part because of their sheer scale (both physical and time). Some reach 100 foot in height and 30 foot in girth, and the eldest are reckoned to be over 800 years old. Then there's the extraordinary appearance, with branches resembling roots and so giving the impression that they are upside down. Finally, the on-going mystery as to their propagation. No-one knows how they are pollinated. Cue tune from the Twilight Zone.