West Africans eat Baobab leaves by the truckload

“I always wondered what the fuss was about dried baobab leaves in West Africa,” says Dr Sarah Venter.

“In Southern and East Africa baobab leaves are known to be eaten but it is not very common. In West Africa however, stories abound of smuggling and theft of truckloads of baobab leaves from one country to another, one would have thought it was contraband! “she chuckles.


The leaves are eaten throughout the year either fresh in the summer or dried in the winter months.  They are apparently part of almost every dish and sold in markets in all towns and cities.

So, what’s the fuss?  Why in West Africa and not elsewhere?  Do they taste different, do they have special powers, are they more nutritious or is it simply a difference in food culture?

Finally, during a recent visit to Ghana I discovered the secret.  When you cook baobab leaves, they produce a huge amount of mucilage, much more than Okra, my only reference point of a similar texture. And the answer in my opinion … it is a difference in food culture.

Filed under: Baobab trees