Wonder

Glencoe Baobab

WorldBlue  In short

Up to the recent time Glencoe Baobab was the stoutest known tree in the world – it had a circumference of 46.6 m. Going around such a baobab takes quite a lot of time!

3.4 out of 10 stars 33.8%

GPS coordinates
24.3739 S 30.8577 E
Location, address
Africa, South Africa, Limpopo Province, west from Hoedspruit, in Glencoe Farm
Trees, Biological extremes
Species
Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.)
Height
16 m (before the splitting)
Diameter
15.9 m (before the splitting)
Circumference
46.6 m (before the splitting)
Crown diameter
37.05 m (before the splitting)

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Much of the South African landscape has been transformed by people but the area around Glencoe Baobab still is in a comparatively natural state, although nearby there are wast agricultural lands. This increased the visual impression created by this tree… until it collapsed in November 2009.

Close to the ground, the incredible giant divided into several trunks – the main trunk long ago has lowered itself on the ground. Thus Glencoe Baobab was smaller in volume than the largest known tree in South Africa – Sagole Baobab, although the diameter of the Glencoe giant is by one third larger.

Investigators of baobabs should take into account that the trunk of these trees might decrease in dry years. This variation can be significant – another baobab in 1946 was by 60 cm less in diameter than in 1931!

It is estimated that the tree could be several thousand years old although it has not been proven scientifically.

Split tree

In November 2009 the enormous tree unexpectedly split into two parts (5). As noted by the tree ecologists, the tree split into two parts due to the fact that it had a hollow. In general, the baobabs are very sturdy and keep standing even with enormous hollows.

Now the tree is totally split up, but fallen parts still are green.

Legends

The smooth bark of baobabs is well suited for carving inscriptions. Glencoe baobab had such carvings from 1893 and 1896 (2), in total there were thousands of inscriptions.

There is though also a legend of treasure connected to this tree. Towards the end of Boer Wars, there were sent two wagon loads of Kruger gold ponds northwards, to the Oliphants River. It is told that near the Hoedspruit the gold was hidden in a hole made in the baobab trunk. The ingenious local method was used to hide the treasure: a termite queen was buried with the gold thus expecting that there will rise a termite mound and cover the hole in the baobab (4).

Who can say now whether this is true or not and if yes – whether the gold still is there. But treasure hunters are firmly asked to go and look for something elsewhere – any digging or cleaving at the unique Glencoe Baobab can damage it.

References

  1. Siyabona Africa Travel, Kruger national park accomodation and safari guide. Accessed: the 20th January 2010
  2. Plantzafrica, South African National Biodiversity Institute’s plant information website. Accessed: the 20th January 2010
  3. List of champion trees published for comment. South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, 2005
  4. Gerald E. Wickens, Pat Lowe. The baobabs: pachycauls of Africa, Madagascar and Australia. 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4020-6430-2
  5. Tree doctors to the rescue, Times Live, December 19 2009. Accessed: the 20th January 2010

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