Author Topic: Death of the Millennia Old Baobab Trees  (Read 133 times)

Offline Shiranu

Death of the Millennia Old Baobab Trees
« on: June 17, 2018, 10:40:25 PM »



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Around 1,500 years ago, shortly after the collapse of the Roman Empire, a baobab tree started growing in what is now Namibia. The San people would eventually name the tree Homasi, and others would call it Grootboom, after the Afrikaans words for “big tree.” As new empires rose and fell, Homasi continued growing. As humans invented paper money, printing presses, cars, and computers, Homasi sprouted new twigs, branches, and even stems, becoming a five-trunked behemoth with a height of 32 meters and a girth to match.

And then, in 2004, it collapsed.


The tree’s demise was sudden and unexpected. In March, at the end of the rainy season, Homasi was in full bloom. But by late June, its health had suddenly deteriorated. One by one, its stems broke off from the gargantuan trunk and toppled. The last of them fell on New Year’s Day, 2005, ending 15 centuries of life.
Common throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the African baobab is one of the biggest flowering plants in the world, and reputedly one of the longest-lived. It’s also known as the upside-down tree, because its bare branches look like roots, or as the monkey bread tree, because of its nutritious and edible fruit. It’s exceptionally long-lived, but recently, several of the oldest baobabs have been dying. Homasi, for example, was part of a grove of seven baobabs, six of which perished within a two-year period.



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This isn’t an isolated event. Of the 13 oldest known baobabs in the world, four have completely died in the last dozen years, and another five are on the way, having lost their oldest stems. “These large and monumental trees, which can live for 2,000 years or more, were dying one after another,” says Adrian Patrut from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, who has catalogued the deaths. “It’s sad that in our short lives, we are able to live through such an experience.”


...


It’s not just the baobabs, either. Around the world, the creaking deaths of ancient trees are testifying to the period of extraordinary environmental change that we are living through. “In Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, I’ve come across whole forests of trees that have died since 2001,” says Wise. “While they are not as old as the baobabs, they are 400 to 500 years old. The die-off has other immediate causes, like insects, but a 500-year-old tree has experienced a lot of insect outbreaks and lived through them. Something is pushing them over the brink this time around.”


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Offline Cavebear

Re: Death of the Millennia Old Baobab Trees
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2018, 11:56:48 PM »
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Quote
Around 1,500 years ago, shortly after the collapse of the Roman Empire, a baobab tree started growing in what is now Namibia. The San people would eventually name the tree Homasi, and others would call it Grootboom, after the Afrikaans words for “big tree.” As new empires rose and fell, Homasi continued growing. As humans invented paper money, printing presses, cars, and computers, Homasi sprouted new twigs, branches, and even stems, becoming a five-trunked behemoth with a height of 32 meters and a girth to match.

And then, in 2004, it collapsed.


The tree’s demise was sudden and unexpected. In March, at the end of the rainy season, Homasi was in full bloom. But by late June, its health had suddenly deteriorated. One by one, its stems broke off from the gargantuan trunk and toppled. The last of them fell on New Year’s Day, 2005, ending 15 centuries of life.
Common throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the African baobab is one of the biggest flowering plants in the world, and reputedly one of the longest-lived. It’s also known as the upside-down tree, because its bare branches look like roots, or as the monkey bread tree, because of its nutritious and edible fruit. It’s exceptionally long-lived, but recently, several of the oldest baobabs have been dying. Homasi, for example, was part of a grove of seven baobabs, six of which perished within a two-year period.



[/q]



This isn’t an isolated event. Of the 13 oldest known baobabs in the world, four have completely died in the last dozen years, and another five are on the way, having lost their oldest stems. “These large and monumental trees, which can live for 2,000 years or more, were dying one after another,” says Adrian Patrut from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, who has catalogued the deaths. “It’s sad that in our short lives, we are able to live through such an experience.”


...


It’s not just the baobabs, either. Around the world, the creaking deaths of ancient trees are testifying to the period of extraordinary environmental change that we are living through. “In Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, I’ve come across whole forests of trees that have died since 2001,” says Wise. “While they are not as old as the baobabs, they are 400 to 500 years old. The die-off has other immediate causes, like insects, but a 500-year-old tree has experienced a lot of insect outbreaks and lived through them. Something is pushing them over the brink this time around.”

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