Baobab: The Tree of Life: Background information when reading Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree

by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani X
Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2018, 336 pages

    Mar 2020, 336 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
Buy This Book

About this Book

Baobab: The Tree of Life

This article relates to Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree

Print Review

Baobab TreeA prominent symbol in Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, the mighty baobab tree sparks the imagination because of its unusual shape and longevity. Traditional Shona myth explains that the tree showed too much pride and was always whining and calling other creatures bad names, so the creator turned it upside-down as punishment, hence it stands today with many root-like branches reaching to the sky.

Traditional medicinal lore ascribes powerful properties to the sacred baobab. Some say that baby boys who bathe in water infused with baobab bark will grow up strong. Others say that if you pick a baobab flower, you will be eaten by a lion; conversely, if you drink water infused with the seeds, you'll be protected from crocodile attacks. In some regions, couples like to marry beneath the baobab, believing it bestows fertility.

Baobab TreeBaobabs are deciduous, and function as prominent players in the ecosystem. Trees may live more than 2,000 years and can grow both taller and wider than 100 feet. They're especially visible because of their unusual, bulbous trunks and are native to Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar and Australia. In Madagascar, the species Adonsonia grandidieri grows in groves with a distinctively tall, sculptured trunk and is a much-photographed tourist attraction. Baobab have also been cultivated (but are not native) in South Asia, the Americas and China.

Sunland BaobabBirds, reptiles, and small mammals such as monkeys nest in the baobab's branches. Bark can be peeled (without killing the tree) and woven into rope, baskets, cloth or hats. Weaver birds create basketlike nests that hang from their tallest branches, safely out of reach of browsing animals. The elaborate, night-blooming flowers attract bats for pollination. Baobab fruit is edible to humans and other creatures. Elephants munch the foliage and fibrous bark. Leaves & seeds are used for creams and skin ointments. Various components are crafted into remedies for stomach upset, insect bites and pain, among other ailments. There's an emerging niche market for using baobab fruit or dried powder as a superfood because of its high levels of vitamin C, calcium, fiber and antioxidants. As mentioned in Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, baobab leaves are used to prepare traditional soup, breads and beverages.

Sunland BaobabThe massive trunks store thousands of gallons of water and can be tapped into during the dry season. Famously, South African landowners turned the hollow space in the Sunland Baobab into a pub until 2017, when the landmark tree mysteriously broke apart and toppled. It was rumored to be the continent's largest baobab. Unfortunately, several other celebrity baobabs have also died during the past decade, and scientists are investigating the causes. Climate change? Human impact? Or maybe the trees are simply worn out, exhausted from their remarkably long lifespan.

Baobab GuardiansBaobab can be cultivated, although they're sensitive to climate and require up to 100 years before fruiting, and researchers are experimenting with grafting to speed up the process. A hopeful micro-enterprise is underway in the Limpopo Province, South Africa, where an organization called Baobab Guardians encourages village women to plant and nurture baobab seedlings until they're viable in the wild. These women – under the mentorship of botanist/forester Dr. Sarah Venter – protect the transplants from browsing animals and are compensated for their work. They also gather nutrient-rich baobab pods from mature trees, selling them to earn a modest cash income in a region where subsistence farming is the main livelihood and families often struggle to feed and educate their children.

Baobab Tree (Adansonia gregorii)
Baobab Tree (Adansonia digitata)
Two photos of Sunland Baobab
Baobab Guardians

Filed under Nature and the Environment

Article by Karen Lewis

This "beyond the book article" relates to Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree. It originally ran in October 2018 and has been updated for the March 2020 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...
  • Book Jacket: Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    by Alison Espach
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance will make you ache for a loss you didn't experience as you relate...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
by Maggie O'Farrell
"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously written that it transports you."
The Boston Globe

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    One's Company
    by Ashley Hutson

    For readers of Ottessa Moshfegh this fearless debut chronicles one woman's escape into a world of obsessive imagination.

  • Book Jacket

    Jackie & Me
    by Louis Bayard

    Master storyteller Louis Bayard delivers a surprising portrait of a young Jackie Kennedy as we've never seen her before.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.



Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.