In The Dark

Entry by: Alobear

8th December 2014
In The Dark

The baobab tree of Madagascar is majestic, but quite alien in its appearance. Its massive trunk stores water for the dry season, while its leaves and branches spread out on top like a flamboyant hat.

Its best kept secret, however, is only revealed during the rainy season, when it produces foot-long, banana-like flower pods. When the time is right, they split open at the end, like stars, and peel themselves back to reveal deep pink flesh that spirals out in an almost balletic display. The petals of the emergent flowers are creamy, sheltering clusters of long, pollen-heavy stamen.

It is then that the mouse lemurs, who have been hibernating, sometimes twelve to a hole, inside the tree, show their furry faces and scurry in search of sweet nectar. They are not the only ones; along with the world’s smallest primate, giant hawk moths also come out to play. The creatures move from flower to flower, performing the role the tree has tempted them towards; transferring pollen and acting as fertilisers.

They continue the dance begun by the opening flowers, darting between the branches and spreading the potential for new life in their wake.

And all this amazing and beautiful activity takes place – only in the dark.