A Tanzania Safari is not only about big cats, giant animals, or the migration of millions. It is about connecting with nature, enjoying beautiful landscapes, and breath-taking sceneries. Trees are the actual reason for it. There are some mighty trees which are very rare in other parts of the world, but very common in Tanzania. These trees are equally impressive and far older who have been looking upon the savannah for ages. Trees are the main source of food for herbivores such as giraffes, elephants, zebras, etc., and a refuge point for birds and monkeys from predators and heat. Let’s check the trees which are very common while you are on Tanzania Safari Holidays.
Baobab (Adansonia Digitata)
These are the most common tree in an African Safari and are native to its continent. There’s an African legend that says, “The great spirit gave each animal a tree to plant. The hyena was assigned baobab tree and the careless animal as it is, it planted the tree upside down”. That’s why the branches of the tree look like roots. These trees look so wise that they are featured in movies like “The Lion King” and “Avatar”.
These trees can measure 40 – 70 feet tall (12 – 20m) and 30 – 60 feet wide (10 – 18m). The average lifespan of these trees is considered to be 1000 years. When a baobab tree dies, it collapses within itself (forming a heap of ruins). A seed sprouts inside it and a new life begins.
Acacia (Acacia Tortillis)
These are the most iconic trees that you find during your Tanzania Safari Holidays. These are called “umbrella trees” because of their looks. They can easily be spotted during your safari. The long sturdy roots of Acacia trees reach deep underground for water, which is why they can survive even in severe drought. The roots also help stabilize the soil that has been threatened by erosion.
Acacia trees are generally 40 – 70 (12 – 21m) feet tall and 3 feet (1m) wide. These trees have a very low life span of about 20 – 30 years. Acacia trees have thorns. While some have long thorns, others have hook-shaped thorns. Acacia trees have a very unique quality of releasing a toxin. When animals such as giraffes or elephants approach this tree, a defense chemical called “ethylene” is released that can travel up to 45m. This secretion of chemicals warns other nearby acacia trees of possible feeders.
The Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana)
These are the most wide-spread trees in Tanzania Safaris. It is called a “sausage tree” because of the looks of its fruit. The fruit can be 1 – 2 feet long and weigh almost 15 pounds. These fruits are very succulents for animals like baboons, elephants, giraffes, bush pigs, hippos, but poisonous for humans. These fruits are used to make skincare products and alcoholic beverages.
These trees can grow up to 66 feet long (20m). The blood-red to maroon flowers (which later grows into fruits) hang in long pinnacles. The locals say that the worst place to camp is under a sausage tree. If the heavy fruit doesn’t crush your head, the elephants that come to collect the fruit will.
Yellow Fever Tree (Acacia Xanthophloea)
These trees grow inside or near water. Mostly these are found in Lake Manyara. Early settlers knew that malaria is more common near still water and blamed it on these trees instead of mosquitos. Thus the name “Yellow fever Tree” came into being.
The beauty of this tree comes from its yellow ball flowers. When the tree matures, the bark of the tree turns into greenish-yellow color, giving an interesting pattern to the tree trunk.
Toothbrush Tree (Salvadora Persica)
The toothbrush tree is a low bush-like tree with a curved shoot. When green, these shoots are cut by the locals to use as a toothbrush. They chew the shoot until it shapes like an actual toothbrush and then brush their teeth with it, spitting out the wood fragments. It may sound silly, but it actually does the work.
This is a native African and middle-eastern plant. The fresh leaves of this tree is sometimes used in salad and to create traditional medicine for asthma, cough, scurvy, rheumatism, Piles, etc.
Strangler Fig (Ficus Thonningii)
The strangler tree starts like a vine-like plant that gets attached to its nearest large tree. It then thickens by producing a branching set and strangles its host tree. When the original support tree dies, it creates a hollow space inside the tree. This space provides shelter and breeding sites for birds, bats, and many other animals.
These trees are used by the native people to treat cold, dysentery, sore throat, constipation, wounds, nosebleeds, and to stimulate lactation. There are two huge fig trees near the Serengeti: “Tree where Man was Born” in southern Loliondo and “Ancestor tree” near Endulin, Ngorongoro.
Wild Date Palm (Phoenix Reclinata)
These trees are mostly found in high waterlog areas. The veins of these leaves are unbranched and parallel. This tree is a relative of grasses, orchids, bananas, and lilies. The wild date palm tree is the native palm tree occurring mostly along swamps and rivers.
The fruits of this tree are edible but horrible in taste. However, the sugary sap of this tree is used to make palm wine. They can grow up to 12m but are generally 3 – 6m tall. The wild date palm tree provides a pleasant fragrance smell, which is perfect to rest under.
There are some amazing floras found in Tanzania Safari Tours, which are very overwhelming. Apart from the above-mentioned trees, there are few others which are equally beautiful and common in a Tanzania Safari, such as:
- Candelabra Euphoria
- Umbrella Thorn Acacia
- Whistling Thorns