Research Article

Age and architecture of the largest African Baobabs from Mayotte, France

Adrian Patrut1,2*, Roxana T. Patrut3, Laszlo Rakosy3, Karl F. von Reden4

1Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

2Raluca Ripan Institute for Research in Chemistry, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

3Faculty of Biology and Geology, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

4NOSAS Facility, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, U.S.A.

*Correspondence: Adrian Patrut, Email: apatrut@gmail.com, Address: Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, 11 Arany Janos Street, 40010 Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Tel: +40-722-214633.

ABSTRACT: 

The volcanic Comoro Islands, located in the Indian Ocean in between mainland Africa and Madagascar, host several thousand African baobabs (Adansonia digitata). Most of them are found in Mayotte, which currently belongs to France, as an overseas department. Baobabs constitute a reliable archive for climate change and millennial specimens were recently used as proxies for paleoclimate reconstructions in southern Africa. We report the investigation of the largest two baobabs of Mayotte, the Big baobab of Musical Plage and the largest baobab of Plage N’Gouja. The Big baobab of Musical Plage exhibits a cluster structure and consists of 5 fused stems, out of which 4 are common stems and one is a false stem. The baobab of Plage N’Gouja has an open ring-shaped structure and consists of 7 partially fused stems, out of which 3 stems are large and old, while 4 are young. Several wood samples were collected from both baobabs and analyzed via radiocarbon dating. The oldest dated sample from the baobab of Musical Plage has a radiocarbon date of 275 ± 25 BP, which corresponds to a calibrated calendar age of 365 ± 15 yr. On its turn, the oldest sample from Plage N’Gouja has a radiocarbon date of 231 ± 20 BP, corresponding to a calibrated age of 265 ± 15 yr. These results indicate that the Big baobab of Musical Plage is around 420 years old, while the baobab of Plage N’Gouja has an age close to 330 years. In present, both baobabs are in a general state of deterioration with many broken or damaged branches, and the Baobab of Plage N’Gouja has several missing stems. These observations suggest that the two baobabs are in decline and, most likely, close to the end of their life cycle. 

Keywords: Adansonia digitata, African baobabs, wood samples, age determination, AMS, radiocarbon dating, baobab architecture, and Mayotte

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Cite as: Patrut, A. et al. “Age and architecture of the largest African Baobabs from Mayotte, France” DRC Sustainable Future 2020, 1(1): 33-47, DOI: 10.37281/DRCSF/1.1.5

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