Climate change could be killing Africa’s giant baobabs

The oldest members of one of Africa’s iconic tree species, the African baobab (Adansonia digitata), appear to be in trouble, according to a study out this week. Across the tree’s range in sub-Saharan Africa, several cultures share a similar story about the first appearance of the distinctively shaped tree, with its wispy branches set atop a girthy base that can be twice as big around as the tree is tall. Earth’s creator, so the story goes, first placed the baobab in the lush forests of the Congo Basin. But the tree complained about the heat, so the creator placed it high in the cloud forests of the Ruwenzori Mountains along the border between modern-day Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But again, the tree wasn’t happy, saying that the humidity there was still too high. Frustrated, the creator yanked up the baobab and tossed it into Africa’s drier regions. It landed topside in the ground, which is why it looks like an upended tree with its roots reaching skyward. Now that fabled finickiness might be surfacing once again. The new research, published Monday in the journal Nature Plants, catalogs a worrisome die-off among some of the oldest and largest baobabs on the continent, likely as a result of climate change. “It is definitely shocking and dramatic to experience during our lifetime the demise of so many trees with millennial ages,” Adrian Patrut, the study’s lead author and a chemist at Romania’s Babeș-Bolyai University, told Agence France-Presse. The researchers found…

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Original Post by Mongabay

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