The Avenue or Alley of the Baobabs is a prominent group of Baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar.
It has been a centre of local conservation efforts, and was granted temporary protected status in July 2007 by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests, the first step toward making it Madagascar’s first natural monument.
Along the Avenue there are approx 25 impressive Baobabs about 30 metres in height, of the species Adansonia grandidieri, endemic to Madagascar. Some 20 – 25 more trees of this species grow in nearby rice paddies and meadows.
Baobab trees, up to 800 years old, known locally as renala (Malagasy for “mother of the forest”), are a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived on Madagascar. The trees did not originally tower in isolation over the sere landscape of scrub but stood in dense forest.
Over the years, as the country’s population grew, the forests were cleared for agriculture, leaving only the baobab trees, which the locals preserved as much in respect as for their value as a food source and building material.
Other common names include ‘boab’, ‘boaboa’, ‘bottle tree’, ‘the tree of life’, ‘upside-down tree’, and ‘monkey bread tree’.
The trees reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). Its trunk can hold up to 120,000 litres of water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air.
Baobabs are one of the largest and most important trees. You can use them for shelter, wood, and more.
The baobab tree is known as the tree of life, with good reason. It can provide shelter, clothing, food, and water for the animal and human inhabitants of the African savannah regions. The cork-like bark and huge stem are fire resistant and are used for making cloth and rope. The leaves are used as condiments and medicines. The fruit, called “monkey bread”, is edible, and full of vitamin C.