Even before setting foot on Madagascar you have heard about it, necessarily! Represented on the seal of the island, logo of the national airline Air Madagascar and taken again more than often in all the websites ...
The traveler's tree, what does it look like?
From 10 to 20 meters high (leaves included), the traveler's tree is recognizable by its fan shape. In summer, it is adorned with large cream-colored flowers that appear on each bract. These flowers with 6 petals and 6 stamens are followed by fruits. These are woody capsules containing many seeds surrounded by intense blue fibers. This amazing color attracts birds. Are true Malagasy name is ravenale or ravinala, for those who are interested, its botanical name is Ravenala madagascariensis.
At the base the traveler's tree is endemic to Madagascar, but today it can be found on almost all the islands of Ecuador such as the island of Reunion, Mauritius, in the Comoros archipelago , in Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique where it was imported as an ornamental plant.
But why the emblem of the island? Why this nickname "traveler's tree"?
It's very simple, it's a real survival kit all by itself! The traveler's tree brings you a floor, a roof, water and food! You do not believe me ?
Water: The base of its hollow stems retain rainwater, so a machete on the base of the trunk of the traveler's tree can collect nearly 1.5 liters of liquid, a particularly liquid sap whose taste is close to water.
The house: It is mainly on the East and North coast of Madagascar that it is used as well, its different parts are used as materials for the construction of traditional vegetable boxes, fresh and functional.
From the trunk, soft and light planks called rapaka or raninpostsi are made with which the floor is made.
the large leaf stems or falafa, once dried, are assembled to form the walls and partitions.
The structure is then covered in a sealed manner by the large leaves, woven between them when dry, called raty.
Food: Your box is ready now! What if we ate with the leftovers of the house? The heart of Ravinala still young and edible, it is usually cooked as an accompaniment to rice. The floury seeds of these trees are also a staple food, once crushed and cooked in milk, they will delight young children. They can also be used to produce oil.
So, what's more natural for Madagascar to make this fascinating, tropical and endemic tree its emblem.
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