Centuries-old African Baobab tree collapses at Attapur

The hundreds-of-years-old African Baobab (
adansonia digitata L.
) tree collapsed at Attapur area near Ananta Padmanabhaswamy temple. “We come to worship this tree every year around this time of monsoon. The tree, which was standing straight, has collapsed now. Even a month ago, when one of our relatives came to worship here, it was straight,” said Rekha Sharma, who came with her family from old city to pray. Hyderabad has a few dozen African Baobab trees brought here by Portuguese traders, African slaves and travellers.

Many Hindus consider the African Boabab as the mythical Kalpavriksh and offer prayers for wish fulfilment. Some of the upper branches of the tree appeared as if they have been hollowed out by termites. Incidentally, a few feet away from the tree is a high termite mound where women pray during Nagula Chavathi, after Deepavali.

“Recently there was a scare about the African Baobab tree at Naya Qila. We sent in our official to check it out and found it to be in the pink of health. It has a hollow inside, but that’s been there from the beginning,” said M.H. Thangal, Archaeological Survey of India, horticulture branch in Mysore. The ASI Mysore team recently carried out a study of the African Baobab tree in Golconda Fort.

In July, there was a worldwide scare about the African Baobab trees dying off due to climate change after the
magazine published a study. “We report that 9 of the 13 oldest and 5 of the 6 largest individuals have died, or at least their oldest parts/stems have collapsed and died, over the past 12 years,” wrote the authors of the study. The researchers identified what they called Ring-Shaped Structure where multiple stems fuse to appear like a single tree with a hollow space within. The study also ruled out the possibility of accurately dating the trees based on the counting of growth rings.

The Boabab tree in Attapur has collapsed though there has been no storm or heavy rainfall in the locality. “We don’t know about the link of the death of these trees with climate change but if it is a termite infestation it can be easily treated with easily available anti-termite treatments,” said Mr. Thangal.

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