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December 6, 2009

The Imbondeiro Tree

This amazing and unusual looking tree, The Imbondeiro Tree, is very popular all over Angola. As the national tree of Angola, not only can it be found growing all over the country, but images of the Imbondeiro tree can be found on many different types of local art work such as paintings or carvings, and on clothing, car windows, signs, etc.
The Imbondeiro Tree, meaning "Giant Tree" can be found in other hot, dry, sub saharan African countries as well, where it is referred to as a Baobab or Adansonia Digitata tree. It is also known as the "upside-down tree" because the branches resemble tree roots, like it was planted upside down! According to legend...
"The Imbondeiro tree was among the first trees to appear on the land. Next came the slender, graceful palm tree. When the Imbondeiro tree saw the palm tree, it cried out that it wanted to be taller. Then the beautiful flame tree appeared with its red flower and the Imbondeiro tree was envious for flower blossoms. When the Imbondeiro tree saw the magnificent fig tree, it prayed for fruit as well. The gods became angry with the tree, and pulled it up by its roots, then replanted it upside down to keep it quiet. And it continued to grow like that."
It is said that they can live for over 1000 years! The massive trunk can hold up to 120,000 liters of water to endure a harsh drought. Sometime people live inside of the trunks or setup tiny shops or produce stands inside. The trees produce large white flowers and they have big, long, velvety fruits, called Mukua, that hang from the branches. The fruit is not usually eaten whole, but is said to be tasty when squeezed into juice. Other parts of the tree can be used for medicine, dyes, etc.
Our family has become quite attached to these trees too! They are so weird looking and it's fun to look at the windows while driving around town and find super funky ones. The name of our compound is "Imbondeiro" and we enjoy life here on the compound, so these trees will always remind of us of all the good times and good friends we've made while we've lived here!
Colby and Nolan making a pit stop in front of an Imbondeiro Tree while cruising around the compound