Upside Down Tree (Day 7 of 30)

Another iconic African image is the Baobab tree, also known as the Upside Down Tree or the Monkey Bread Tree. In fact only one of the eight species of Baobab is African, but it’s shape is so distinctive, that it’s quite often used to represent the continent.

Baobab (watercolour 6 x 4 inches)
Baobab (watercolour 6 x 4 inches)

The reference to it as an upside down tree is fairly easy to understand if you see one in Africa without its leaves. The massive truck gives rise to thick sinewy branches and finally to a multitude of fine gnarly twigs. All leading to making it appear the tree is facing roots up with it’s top buried in the ground. The Bushmen believed that the tree offended God, who then caused it to grow upside down as a punishment. The name Monkey Bread Tree refers to the thick edible pulp of the tree’s fruit.

The other association with Africa is age. Although they are difficult to accurately age, they are long living and grow to enormous proportions. The largest living specimen is thought to be in the northern province of South Africa and have a truck circumference of 47m.

An old friend, renowned South African conservationist Quinton Coetzee, refers to the baobab and it’s richness of resources in his corporate presentations. The tree can provide shelter, life giving water, nutrition and can even be used to make tools and rope substitute. Quinton talk reminds his audience to carefully consider how we use our resources and protect their source. Although he is using the tree as an analogy for a businesses resources, it’s a pretty valuable literal message too,  considering how much deforestation takes place every year.

Sticking with my Africa theme for the moment, this is Day 7 of 30 paintings in 30 days – and yes, this one is going on Running With Brushes too. Only one more to go to reach a total of 100.

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