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L'Abre le Baobab

L'Abre le Baobab

Le baobab est l'emblème du Sénégal. En dehors des fréquentes rencontres avec cet arbre dans la nature, son image se trouve mêlée de façon étroite à la vie du pays : logos en tout genres, publicités de produits divers, références, citations, emblème de tampons administratifs... Il a inspiré les poètes, les écrivains, les peintres, les photographes, les scientifiques, les médecins... On   lui a découvert mille usages... C'est donc un être déjà peu banal, mais en plus il flotte autour de lui un parfum de mystère, de légendes...

Tout d'abord son nom. L'origine du mot baobab a donné lieu à de nombreuses analyses, il aurait été imprimé pour la première fois en 1592 à Venise dans un ouvrage illustré, le De Plantais Ægyrine Liber, publié par un médecin padouan, Prosper Alpine à son retour d'Ego. Ce vocable ne pénétra que beaucoup plus tard dans la langue française, dans l'Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers, œuvre monumentale du XVIIIème siècle, composée sous la direction de Diderot et de d'Alembert, publiée à partir de 1751, après qu'il fût tiré des ténèbres par Michel Adanson, tombant en arrêt, en août 1749, devant les baobabs de Sore, à Saint Louis du Sénégal. Je lui laisse la parole : "(J'aperçus) un arbre dont la grandeur prodigieuse attira toute mon attention. C'était un calebassier, autrement appelé pain de singe, que les wolofs nomment gouï dans leur langue...". C'est Bernard de Jussieu, du Muséum de Paris, qui, recevant des échantillons, donna à l'arbre le nom scientifique d'Adansonia digitata. Voilà pour la version la plus couramment admise.

 

La pulpe du fruit est largement utilisée dans la médecine traditionnelle comme fébrifuge, analgésique, anti-diarrhéique, anti-dysentérique et dans le traitement de la variole et de la rougeole. La pulpe des fruits, généralement blanchâtre, mais pouvant être jaune ou rosée, appelée "pain de singe", est très riche en acide ascorbique (vitamine C, 2500 à 3000 mg/kg), soit à volume égal 6 fois supérieure à celle contenue dans une orange. L'acide ascorbique a un rôle extrêmement important du point de vue nutritionnel et thérapeutique, par exemple comme solution au scorbut.

 

La pulpe contient aussi des quantités importantes d'autres vitamines essentielles telles que la thiamine (vitamine B1), la riboflavine (vitamine B2) ou encore la niacine (vitamine B3 ou PP). Le goût acidulé de la pulpe est du aux acides organiques tels que l'acide citrique et l'acide tartrique. Si l'on devait comparer cette acidité à l'un de nos fruits, elle est un peu plus marquée que pour celle des raisins secs. Ces acides sont par exemple utilisés par les peuples pasteurs d'Afrique pour faire coaguler le lait. Dans 100 g de pulpe du fruit du baobab, il y a 75,6% de glucides, 2,3 % de protéines et 0,27 de lipides et permet d'obtenir 300 mg de vitamine C.

Enfin, elle contient des fibres dont la quantité peut atteindre 45 g pour 100 g de produit, composant essentiel du régime alimentaire. On comprend pourquoi de nombreux groupes pharmaceutiques ont depuis quelques années renforcé leurs recherches sur la pulpe de baobab. On peut mâcher la pulpe et l'avaler, ou bien la dissoudre dans de l'eau et/ou du lait concentré pour en faire une boisson rafraîchissante et énergétique (appelé "bouye" au Sénégal). Cette boisson est quelquefois mélangée à la "mérissa", sorte de bière de sorgho fermentée très commune au Soudan. Enfin, dans certaines parties d'Afrique, la pulpe de baobab est brûlée pour fumiger les insectes qui parasitent le bétail domestique.

 

Sources : Planete-Senegal

Tags: Le baobab

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