The largest and the oldest known baobab trees, a few of them dating back to the ancient Greeks, are dying across the African continent and the researchers are trying to understand the reason behind it.
As per a new study published in Nature Plants journal on Monday, shows that the trees, which are around 1100 and 2500 years old, have abruptly died, in part or wholly in the last 10-12 years and the authors of the study suggest that climate change may have affected the baobab trees ability to survive.
Baobabs, also referred to as the dead-rat trees because of the fruits which grows on them, are known to the most different plant species in the world. The branches of the tree look as if they are trying to reach out for the sky and look like pillars. It is found in the savannah region of Africa and even in the tropical areas outside the continent.
Adrian Patrut, the lead author of the study and a chemist at Babes-Bolyai University of Romania says that the shocking demise of such a high number of tress is very unexpected.
The researchers utilised radiocarbon dating in order to analyse over 60 of the oldest and largest baobab trees in the African continent between the years 2005-17 and discovered that most of the trees died in those span of 12 years.
As per the study, five out of the six oldest and largest trees either passed away or the oldest parts in their system collapsed.
The authors suspect man-made factors causing climate change to be the likely suspect. The increased temperature and drought are the major threats, says Patrut. However, the researchers said that further research needs to be conducted to support or refute that suspected reason.
The tree’s root, bark, fruit and seeds all are a source of food to many animals, as per the researchers. Whatever the reason is, the death of these trees will have a huge impact in the southern African landscape.