Standing tall on the sunburnt plains of Africa and Australia, like great living giants, baobabs may be the oldest life forms on the planet, and many ... Show synopsis Standing tall on the sunburnt plains of Africa and Australia, like great living giants, baobabs may be the oldest life forms on the planet, and many of the specimens still standing today have been around for at least 2000 years. For centuries, the tree has provided food, medicine, shelter, places of refuge and worship and even served as prisons and tombs. Long before Africa was opened up by European explorers, the news of the baobab had astonished the world of science, due to its stupendous size (twice the girth of any tree in Europe), its bizarre appearance (more like a pumpkin than a tree) and its extraordinary soft, pith-like wood. Today, the baobab continues to baffle scientists. Nothing seems certain about the tree except that mythology comes to it naturally. The countless superstitions and myths that surround these 'gnarled upside-down giants' are as strange and intriguing as the appearance of the trees themselves. In this book Thomas Pakenham recounts his personal encounters with the different species of baobabs of Africa and Australia in his own inimitable style, as well as describing trees which have migrated to other lands. He tells of the myths and legends as well as the history - stranger than fiction - of many of the trees and their chances of survival.