The Queen’s Park Baobab
How did a 1,000 year-old tree from West Africa end up in the centre of Bridgetown when no European or African set foot on Barbados until the 16th century?
The Queen’s Park baobab is not only old, at 91ft (26m) tall and 81ft (25m) wide, it’s big too. So you’d need at least 15 hand-holding tree huggers to give it a proper squeeze.
But how did it get to the city centre?
This fantastic specimen arrived in Barbados on an ocean current about 1000AD. It took root on a sheltered beach or at the edge of a lagoon.
Now it’s the centre piece in Bridgetown’s Queen’s Park. Children frolic in the nearby play area. Lovers hold hands under its massive canopy.
So how did it get to the city centre?
The answer lies in the continued rise of the island out of the sea and the retreat of water from around the city.
Barbados sits at a point on the earth’s crust where the Atlantic and Caribbean tectonic plates meet.
This collision brought the island into existence about one million years ago via a process caused uplift.
These huge forces are the cause of the occasional tremor even today.
In the past one thousand years – ever since the Queen’s Park baobab made its 3,000 mile voyage from West Africa – Barbados continued its journey upwards and away from the centre of the earth.
Reach for the sky
More of the coral rock has been exposed, the water has retreated and the world around this wonder of nature has changed.
The Queen’s Park baobab is now a city dweller and no longer has a sea view.
There are baobabs in other parts of Barbados. In 2008, nine were planted around the island by a woman commemorating the life of her mother. A tree is always a nice way to say thank you.
One was planted at Welchman Hall Gully, pictured below with Teddy, its personal guard dog.
There’s another massive one at Warrens, St Michael, not far from the ABC Highway, on the road to Jackson.
But this one’s only a mere 300 years old. It was brought here from Guinea, Africa, and deliberately planted which accounts for its position in the centre of the island.
And the one above was found by a secretbarbados researcher at Redlands, in the centre of the island. It’s got a very distinctive shape. Hard to believe these tiny trees can grow so huge and live for more than 1,000 years…