This is the Tree of Life. What!? you say? But the Tree of Life has leaves on it and it's not on the safari, it's in the center of Animal Kingdom.
Well, yes, and it is also here.
It is the Baobab tree. The Baobab is the Tree of Life. It is considered a sacred tree and is alternatively called Mother by the African people who know her.
Leafless and bare for much of the year, the baobab might be mistaken for dead. But this fascinating tree is very much alive, and is a tremendous resource.
People come to the tree to gather honey, to pick fruit, called Monkey Fruit, for candy and drinks, to strip the bark for baskets and rope, and to use the roots for medicine. The leaves are used in their most common sauce. And, in times of drought, the tree has been uprooted for its source of water.
All kinds of life share in the baobab's wealth. It provides shelter and food to an incredible variety of creatures. Birds make their homes in its hollows, bush babies and fruit bats drink nectar from its large white flowers, baboons feast on its fruit, and giraffes nibble its tender leaves.
The Baobab, a member of the silk-cotton family grows to the height of a large maple tree but its lateral growth makes it one of the largest trees. The trunk can attain a diameter of 30 feet and its large mass of limbs and foliage can often reach 150 feet in diameter.
So, when you see the Tree of Life, whichever Baobab it may be, remember that a lot more people than visit Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom know the true meaning of its name.
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