In the Presence of a Giant

On the R71 outside Gravelotte (Between Gravelotte & Tzaneen), Limpopo, South Africa, you will find the Leydsdorp Baobab. Advertized as being more than 2000 years old, this ancient giant is an impressive sight to behold.
R20 per person gets you into the embrace of this magnificent tree, after completing a simple attendance register.
You have to be quiet in the presence of greatness. The mere thought that this tree might have already been around at 1 A.D. is enough to leave you breathless. You are allowed to hug this tree, and you should, or take the wooden ladder and climb into the crown, and become part of that stillness for a while. Most humans love to destroy irreplaceable things. It is a sobering feeling to be perched in this tree and just value its ancient existence. You should do it.
Ivor Mathias is The Tree's human guardian. He whispers of the legends that surround this living statue. Should you pick a single flower, a lion will eat you. The gravestones in the cemetery of nearby gold-rush ghost-town Leydsdorp bear silent witness to that tale.
The flowers of a Baobab tree bloom only for one night, with their sweet fragrance attracting the bats pollinating the flowers.Baobabs are deciduous (they lose their leaves during the cooler months), and the juvenile leaves differ from those of the adult tree. This gave rise to the belief among some indigenous people that the trees just appear, fully grown, overnight.
Cream of Tartar used to be made from the seeds, but are now produced as a by-product of wine-making. Literally every part of a baobab tree is useful. Just like in The Lion King, it acts as a water reservoir and it can save the lives of animals during a drought, as they chew on the water-rich bark.
The fruits are nutrient-rich, the bark is handy for rope-making and a myriad other purposes.
Over the years the Leydsdorp Baobab had been used as a post office, mortuary, bar, fridge, kitchen and make-shift home. Naturally hollow inside, most baobabs feature a comfortable, constant 22 degrees Celsius interior.
Baobabs form an eco-system all of their own, with certain trees like the Sagole Baobab even hosting a rare colony of mottled spinetail swallows.
Adansonia digitata (Baobab) is one of eight species of Baobabs occurring around the world, also known as upside-down trees.
This giant is 25m tall, with a girth of +-22m, making it one of the biggest Baobabs in South Africa.
If you are anywhere close to the Northern Parts of the Limpopo Province, go and seek out the Baobabs on the list of Champion Trees (Protected Trees in South Africa), but don't forget to hug our Leydsdorp Baobab friend too.
Written by Carina Crayton (Co-Founder WHWF)

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