Quiver tree Forest, Keetmanschop district, southern Namibia

fujifilm X-T1, ISO 800, FL 70 mm, 1/30 sec @ f/11

fujifilm X-T1, ISO 800, FL 70 mm, 1/30 sec @ f/11

The quiver tree (or the kokerboom in Afrikaans) is only naturally found in the North Western Cape and Southern Namibia, running into Damaraland.  They are not really trees at all but a plant, the Aloe Dichotoma.  The ‘trees’ are normally found singly or in small clusters in very arid, rocky land so it is remarkable and unique that there are so many clustered into a small forest in Keetmanschop.  In fact, the quiver tree forest was declared a national monument in Namibia in 1995.

The ‘trees’ were the most unusual I have ever seen and particularly surreal at the edges of day – twilight and sunrise.  The plants can grow quite large, up to 30 feet, with a trunk as large as 3 feet in diameter.  The quiver tree forest is very old with some plants as old as 2 – 3 centuries.  The bark is quite beautiful – a rich yellow brown, textured scale that flakes off giving a multidimensional appearance to the trunk.  The main core of the tree is fibrous which allows for water storage.  The tree branches exude a thin liquid that dries into a silver powder, coating the branches, and by reflecting light serves as a natural sun-screen.  The quiver tree first flowers between 20 and 30 years old, a bright yellow bloom in the winter months of the southern hemisphere.

The bushmen would cut a branch from the tree, hollow out the fibrous core, fit an cap on the end, and use the branch as a quiver to hold their arrows.  Thus, the name quiver tree 🙂

fujifilm X-T1, ISO 1000, FL 50 mm, 1/30 sec @ f/11

fujifilm X-T1, ISO 1000, FL 50 mm, 1/30 sec @ f/11

 

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