Baobab trees are ancient, iconic structures with stalky branches that jut out haphazardly from rugged, thick trunks. These odd-looking trees can grow to an enormous size and are found in low-lying areas in Africa and Australia.
Baobabs are sometimes known as upside-down trees because their spindly branches look like roots reaching up to the sky. The iconic trees are also called monkey bread trees because of their plentiful fruit.
Until recently, these trees seemed nearly indestructible. People have used their cavernous trunks for homes, shops, storage and even a cocktail bar.
But then they began to topple. In early 2016, the Sunland baobab in Modjadjiskloof, South Africa — which had grown to an impressive 62 feet tall and nearly 112 feet in girth — began to split. By late 2017, it had collapsed completely.
The Sunland baobab, also called the Platland tree, had been functioning as a cocktail bar. Some thought perhaps all those people visiting the tree’s innards may have been the reason for its demise. But it wasn’t the only baobab that crumbled.