Almm’s African Savanna: Environment
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B… Savanna Main Trees

 

The Savanna is mainly grassland and small bushes but there are also trees. They can’t grow close to one another in bunches because the ground is made of a hard layer that is created by the hot sun in the summer and the water in the wet season which stops roots from pushing downwards to get water. This means that trees can grow only in cracks. The major trees of the Savanna are the Acacia trees and the Baobab trees. Another well known tree is the Candelabra Tree.

The Acacia Tree

The Acacia Tree is an umbrella shaped tree that is very common in Africa.

Acacia trees can also be called thorntrees or wattles, which includes the yellow-fever Acacia and the umbrella Acacia. There are about 1300 species of Acacia worldwide and about 960 come from Australia. The rest are all from Africa, Southern Asia and Southern America.

The leaves of the Acacia Tree are compound pinnate. It has small flowers with five small petals nearly hidden by the very long yellowy-cream coloured stamens. Often this plant has spines like the Acacia Erioloba which is known as the Giraffe Horn of Africa.

The Acacia Tree is used for many things. We use its seeds for food such as soups and curries. The honey made by the flower of the Acacia is used as a forage and it is considered a wonderful thing to eat. Also it is used to make Arabic gum in Senegal and North Nigeria. It can be a cure for rabies used in the 19th century by the Ethiopians. This plant can be considered an ornament for gardens and its bright yellow flowers are often confused with the Mimosa. The Ancient Egyptians used it for painting and we used and still use it as a perfume. The Bible states a lot of times the burning of its wood as a from of incense. People sometimes think that the Acacia represents the soul and means resurrection during a funeral.

The Baobab Tree

The Baobab is also a very common tree in Africa especially in the island of Madagascar. This tree can also be called boab, boaboa, bottle tree or monkey bread tree. It can reach a really high height from 5-25m and the trunk can have a diameter of 7m.

Baobabs store water in their trunks, up to 120 000 litres o that they can endure any drought that can occur many times in the country it is in.

Baobabs are known to be long living trees. Some seem to have lived thousands of years hough it is impossible to tell if it is really true since its wood doesn’t produce annual rings.

Its leaves are used in Malawi, Zimbabawe and Sahel as vegetable leaves while in Nigeria they are known as Kuka and are used to make the Kuka Soup. Its fruit is very nutrient and is known as Monkey Bread. Its seeds can be added to soups or can be squeezed to make vegetable oil. It can make fibre, dye and fuel.

The Candelabra Tree

The Candelabra Tree is found near the Equator. It can grow up to 10m tall and the branches all sprout from the trunk and they look a little like cactuses that grow upwards making the plant look like a candelabra. It has yellow flowers in winter. This tree is very beautiful but unfortunately also very poisonous. In fact just one drop of the inner sap can cause a blister. If it touches your eyes it can make you blind and even breathing its fumes can burn. The poisonous sap and the sharp spines it has on it branches are to prevent animals from feeding on it. Sometimes people use it as a fence because of these characteristics.

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