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The Remarkable Baobab
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Author: Thomas Pakenham.
ISBN-10: 0-297-84373-7 (0297843737)
ISBN-13: 978-0-297-84373-3 (9780297843733)
Language: English
No. of Pages: 143
Dimensions: 190mm x 224mm x 18mm

Item Identification Code (UID#): 449
Shelving Location: Natural History: Flora
Estimated Value: £13.00
Purchase Date: 25 December 2004
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The Remarkable Baobab

First Edition
Orion Books / Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2004).
Hardcover Book with Dust Jacket

Text from the Front Flap

Baobabs were first noted by 18th-century explorers for their extraordinary size and girth and for their bizarre appearance with what appears to be a tangle of roots sprouting from a bulbous trunk. Even today they continue to baffle botanists. The most magnificent specimens are reputed to be very ancient, possibly 1,000 years old, but no one can be certain because when they reach a great age they become hollow. And there are accounts of spontaneous combustion – trees mysteriously burst into flame.

In the countries where they are found they are associated with many myths and legends. This is the tree which many African peoples believe to be the home of their ancestral spirits. In the creation myth in which each animal receives its own tree from the Great Spirit, it was originally given to the hyena who threw the gift down in disgust. It landed the wrong way up and so it became the 'upside down tree' with its roots sticking up like branches.

The tree of the hyena spawned seven species. Five are found only in Madagascar. One is found in both Madagascar and twenty countries of Africa and the last is a native of Australia. A few specimens have been transplanted elsewhere (notably to the West Indies) but otherwise they are found nowhere else in the world. The most famous and most photographed accumulation of trees – possibly 100 in all – is to be found outside Morondava in Madagascar, the famous Avenue of the Baobabs, justly celebrated at length in this book.

Thomas Packenham, the best-selling chronicler of remarkable trees has long harboured a grand passion for these extraordinary trees. Here in this volume this passion is finally given full rein.

About the Author (from the Back Flap)

Thomas Packenham is the author of two best-selling and internationally acclaimed books on trees, Meetings With Remarkable Trees and Remarkable Trees of the World. He lives in County Westmeath, Ireland, with a growing collection of trees raised from seeds collected on his expeditions around the world, and is chairman of the Irish Tree Society. Apart from a passion for trees he has written many books on Irish and African history. The Scramble for Africa won the W. H. Smith Award and the Alan Paton Award. He is the author of The Mountains of Rasselas, The Boer War and The Year of Liberty.


  • Introduction: The Wooden Elephant
  • They Sailed from Here: Baobabs of Madagascar
  • The Upside Down Tree: Baobabs of Africa
  • Wizards of Oz: Baobs of Australia
  • In Captivity: Baobabs of the Caribbean
  • Acknowledgements
  • Bibliography
  • Distribution of Baobabs
  • Index
  • Illustration Credits


  • The copy on the dust jacket front flap erroneously states that there are seven baobabs species in total, five of which are endemic to Madagascar. In fact there are eight, of which six are Malagasy natives, as the book itself correctly asserts.

Condition of Item

As New.

Refer to the glossary for definitions of terms used to describe the condition of items.



This item was kindly donated to the Madagascar Library collection by Steve & Glen Austin.
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Photographs of the Item (Total: 4)

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Front Cover: The Remarkable Baobab Back Cover: The Remarkable Baobab Front Flap: The Remarkable Baobab Back Flap: The Remarkable Baobab  
Front Cover Back Cover Front Flap Back Flap  
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