Thursday, September 19, 2013

Plants, Trees and Flowers - Namibia

The Welwitschia Mirabilis -   As its name suggests one of the most amazing plants you will see. You can spot it in several areas in the Namib Naukluft Park, or as we did, in the Petrified Forest. An adult welwitschia consists of two leaves, a stem base and roots.  Its two permanent leaves are unique in the plant kingdom. They are the original leaves from when the plant was a seedling, and they just continue to grow and are never shed. They are leathery, broad, and lie on the ground becoming torn to ribbons and tattered with age. Their estimated lifespan is 400 to 1500 years.

Bottle Tree - These striking trees are distinguished by their thick bottle-shaped trunk, which is almost branchless until the top. The branches are few and covered with thorns up to a foot long. The flowers appear in the spring, when the tree is leafless, which is why they look so dramatic. The Bottle tree is an endemic species of Namibia, growing in semi-desert areas and dry bush, especially Damaraland.
The makalani palm -Breaks up an otherwise treeless landscape in the northern part of Namibia.
The makalani grows quite tall, up to 20 metres high. Aside from looking beautiful with a blue sky behind and when the sun hits their leaves, the makalani is used by locals. Their leaves are cut into threads and used to weave baskets that can be found for sale around Namibia. They are also the source of two alcohols. Palm wine is made from the terminal bud, but, as this kills the tree it is against the law. This law is apparently flouted however. Less devastating to the plant is the distillation of a local brand, ombike, which is made from fermenting the fruit of the makalani. The seeds are often carved and sold as decorations and are also used as fuel for fires in this country where wood is at a premium. 

No comments:

Post a Comment