I’m currently working on the third book in my House of the Cat series. One of the characters is a tremin, and although sentient, he bears many characteristics of a tree. Hubby and I were walking the dog, and I said to him, “My character is a tree. Not a real tree, at least not all the time. He needs to be a tree that can survive in the desert. What sort of tree would he be?”
Hubby didn’t hesitate. “A baobab tree,” he said.
It was a duh moment for me. We’d seen enough of them when we visited Africa. A baobab was perfect, so I’ve taken many characteristics and shaped them to make Kelvin, my tremin.
Thirteen Facts About the Baobab Tree
1. The baobab grows in Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Six of the eight species grow in Madagascar, which has puzzled botanists for a long time.
2. The baobab hates waterlogged roots.
3. It can grow back new bark even if fully stripped. The fibres of the bark can be used for roofing and to make ropes, which is used in fishing, baskets and nets.
4. The seed pods are huge. The pith inside can be used to make a refreshing drink, which tastes like sherbet. It can also be used as a substitute for cream of tartar.
5. Sometimes the pith is used in a medicine as a replacement for quinine.
6. Locals use the empty seed pobs as cups and containers.
7. Some of the trees are enormous with huge girths. One called Chapman’s baobab had a base of 85 feet in circumference.
8. The trees are unusual in that they look as if they’re planted upside down.
9. The trees store a lot of water in their trunks to sustain them during the dry season. A perfect fact for my plot!
10. Some legends state that each baobab contains an elephant inside, waiting to get out. A way of explaining its huge trunk.
11. The Kalahari bushman believe the baobab offended God and in punishment, he planted it upside down.
12. The flowers of the tree bloom at night. Bats thump into them while hunting for food, and in the process help with pollination.
13. The seeds hang down on long stalks and are about the size of a coconut.
Source: The Remarkable Baobab Tree by Thomas Pakenham.
I love trees and from where I sit right now, I can see quite a few varieties. My favorites are some of our New Zealand native trees, which are just about all evergreen. Some, like the kowhai and the pohutukawa, have gorgeous flowers.
What is your favorite type of tree?