In the early 21st century, baobabs in Africa began to die off rapidly from a cause yet to be determined. Scientists believe it is unlikely that disease or pests were able to kill many trees so rapidly, and some speculated that the die-off was a result of dehydration from global warming.
Baobab trees are known for their immense bottle-shaped trunks which are used to store water in the dry environments where they grow. The bark is smooth and the branches and leaves are concentrated near the top of the canopy. The leaves are about the size of a human hand and are divided into five oval-shaped leaflets about 3 or 4 inches long.
White flowers, about 4 inches in diameter with a prominent cluster of stamens in the middle, appear in spring. The fruits develop over the summer into foot-long, club-shaped appendages that dangle from the tree. In their native habitats, the trees can grow up to 100 feet in height.