Kokerbooms (Aloe dichotoma), or quiver trees, are widespread throughout southern Namibia and north-western South Africa. They belong to the aloe family and can grow to heights of 8 meters. The name is derived from their lightweight branches, which were formerly used as quivers by the San hunters; they would remove the fibrous heart of the branch, leaving a strong, hollow tube. The slow-growing kokerbooms occur mainly on rocky plains or slopes, they need rocks to anchor they shollow root systems.
The typical thorny plant on the side of the road, it's amazing we didn't get more flats than we did. These thorns were sometimes 10cm long.
Flowering aloe plant. It's nice to see some color in the bland desert decor.
In the middle of the Namib desert, 5 or 6 plants, a sign: "If you have a drop to spare let us share".
Among Namibia's many botanical curiosities, the extraordinary Welwitschia mirabilis, which exists only on the gravel plains of the northern Namib Desert, is probably the strangest of all. Although they are the ugly ducklings of the vegetable world, they've adapted amazingly to their harsh habitat. Welwitschias have a slow growth rate, and it's beleived that the largest ones, whose tangled masses of leaf strips can measure up to 2m across, may have been growing for up to 2000 years!
What the ...?!?
The Okavango delta, in Botswana, is mainly covered with riparian and swamp vegetation, including reeds, papyrus, and water lillies. The papyrus plant is used to make paper, but is also delicious to snack on when nothing else is around...Also serves as a great hideout for crocs and hippos.
Baobabs live for a long time, although calculating their age is very difficult, as growth rates vary enormously, and the trunk may shrink during droughts. Research shows they put on an early spurt, growing fast during the first 250 to 300 years. After that they slow down for a millenium or two. Trees with a 30 meter circumference could be 4000 years old.
Swinging on a vine in the riverine forest along the Zambezi river, in Zambia.
We saw some of the biggest cactii we had ever seen in our lives.
The baobab tree, with its bizarre appearance, thick trunk and root-like branches, is surrounded by myth and legend. One traditional story tells how the Creator, angry at the baobab, pulled it out and flung it back into the ground headfirst. Another folk tale has God giving all the animals a seed to plant. The hyena was given the baobab, but, left until last, he planted it upside down in resentment.
Snake or vine?