May 24, 2024

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Scientists solve the mystery of the ancient “Tree of Life”.

Scientists solve the mystery of the ancient “Tree of Life”.

  • Written by Helen Briggs
  • Environment correspondent

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, The baobab tree is known as the “upside down tree” or “tree of life.”

Scientists have successfully solved the mystery of the origins of ancient baobab trees.

According to DNA studies, the famous trees first appeared in Madagascar 21 million years ago.

Its seeds were later transported by ocean currents to Australia and also to mainland Africa, and developed into distinct species.

Researchers are calling for greater efforts to preserve the trees, which they say may be closer to extinction than previously thought.

Baobab trees are known as the “tree of life” or “upside down tree” for their bizarre shapes and longevity. They are in trouble because of climate change and widespread deforestation.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, African baobab grows in most parts of the continent

Dr Elia Leach, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, worked on the study, alongside her husband, Professor Andrew Leach, from Queen Mary University of London.

She told the BBC: “We have been able to identify the origin of baobab trees, which are a distinctive keystone species that supports a wide range of animals and plants as well as humans.”

“The data has enabled us to provide important new insights that will inform conservation to protect its future.”

The researchers studied eight species of baobab, six of which are found in Madagascar, one is widespread throughout Africa, and another in northwestern Australia.

Image source, AlexAntonelli-royalbotanicgardenskew

Comment on the photo, The fruits are large and resemble berries

Baobab trees are considered one of the most magnificent trees on Earth, deeply intertwined with local cultures and traditions.

It is also known as the “Mother of the Forest” in Malagasy, the “Upside Down Tree” and the “Tree of Life”.

Trees can live for thousands of years, growing to huge sizes and storing large amounts of water in their trunks to survive during dry seasons.

Its fruit is considered a superfood and its stem can be used to make fibers used in rope or clothing.

They produce large white flowers that open at dusk, attract bats as pollinators, which travel great distances to feed on their nectar, and are important nesting sites for birds.

The research involved a collaboration between Wuhan Botanic Garden (China), Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew, UK), University of Antananarivo (Madagascar), and Queen Mary University of London (UK).

Follow Helen on Twitter @hbriggs