A Tree Named Boab (That’s Australian for Bob)

Have you ever seen a photo of a baobab tree? I first saw them in a college textbook about South African History and they are

Classic baobab tree.

magnificent. They sort of look like a tree turned upside down with its roots in the air and its foliage buried in the ground. To see one makes it hard to forget one.

Last winter my wife and I watched a police series that was filmed in Australia and something resembling baobab trees were a regular part of outdoor shots. After a little research, I discovered that there is only

one member of the species found in certain parts of Downunder. It is referred to as the Boab tree.

Boab Prison Tree near Derby, Western Australia.

One tree, the Prison Boab Tree, is located near Derby in Western Australia and is over 1,500 years old. Its trunk is hollow and it comes with the story that in the late 1800s the hollow trunk was used to house indigenous prisoners being transported to more traditional jails. Over the years the Prison Boab became a favorite tourist site and a fence was erected to help protect it from humans.

I was impressed with the story and without digging any deeper accepted it as truth. Today I came across a photo news feed of magnificent tree photos and not surprisingly one shot was of a stand of baobab trees, probably in Africa. It brought to mind the Prison Tree and got me to revisit it. To my disappointment, I learned that the story about it being used as a temporary jail was merely a myth. There is zero evidence of a prisoner ever spending a night inside the famous tree.

The Prison Tree is sort of dumpy and bubble-like. Fitting since I just got yet another bubble burst! I feel something close to how I felt when first learning there wasn’t a Santa Claus.


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