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Baobab tree

I’ve just got back from Africa, and I have had the most amazing trip. Three of the four weeks were spent on safari in Tanzania and Malawi

In Tanzania, I was held in rapturous awe at these magnificent trees. Not only do they look splendid against the sunrise, but bees seem to love making wild nests on their branches. Elephants eat the bark when they are thirsty. The locals, elephants and baboons enjoy the fruit, and women extract the oil for skin care.

I was fascinated by this tree, and my guides Jonas and Ayoubou asked if I would like to try the fruit. They stopped the Land Rover, and we got out. Ayoubou pulled out a scary looking machete, and went off to cut a long stick. Jonas took the stick and flung it hard at the branches, and Lo…down dropped a fruit, which they opened with said machete. To my surprise, the fruit is dry – like a sweet sharp, powdery sherbet, and delicious. This rather strange fruit is very high in Vitamin C, and also contains B vitamins, magnesium and potassium, and calcium. The nutritional profile with its high anti-oxidant rating makes it one of the great superfoods of the world, and I have been including Baobab fruit powder in my smoothie every day since I’ve got back.

As an aside, the next day we found a male lion lying under that very tree, but try as I might, neither Jonas, not Ayoubou would get another fruit for me! They said that they had shown me yesterday, and now it was my turn.

The oil is divine. Considering the dry environment in which this tree grows, you cannot believe that it produces such a silky unctuous golden oil, rich in omegas 3, 6 and 9. Also very anti-oxidant, it is highly valued for protecting the skin from free radical damage (anti-aging), it is anti-inflammatory (very soothing for dermatitis), promotes the rejuvenation of skin cells, wound healing and is an excellent moisturiser. I have been using this oil for years in my Baobab Cream, which is particularly helpful for dry irritated skin. I love this cream because it leaves the skin feeling nourished and soft but without that greasy feeling.

A tree that looks like the neurons of a brain collecting cosmic impulses must have some spiritual associations, and indeed it is highly revered by the African people for many reasons; but in particular, it is the home of the ancestors. This is where the spirits of the dead go to rest. Some trees seem to be more revered than others, and we passed a huge baobab around which the road had to be built, because the machinery kept breaking down whenever they tried to it bring down. Of course, the locals knew that this was a tree of power, and the engineers eventually had to concede defeat. So, it stands to this day, and the people still have their tree.