Sunday, November 26, 2006

Aloe asperifolia and the salt road along west coast Namibia.  We are on our way to see the desert aloe Aloe asperifolia. Driving along the salt road to Swakopmund and on to Walvis bay where we saw a large crane trying to pull out a stranded fishing boat.
As to the salt road. It is really made of the salt from the salt pans which are plentiful along the west coast. The gypsum, which is one of the components in the salt binds with the sand, the salt as such helps to catch the water from the fog that keeps the mix from drying out and form a hard crust. It is a good road to travel on, like a tar road. This road can not exist where it rains or where the air is dry.
We traveled from Windhoek to Karibib, visited the cemetery at Usakos and took the turn-off into the dust road. That took us to Henties bay, from there along the salt road to Swakopmund and tar road to Walvis bay

Karibib - can you believe that quiet street? I am standing in the main road taking this photo. This is the main road down to the coast, so there are often cars travelling through and some people on the main road at the few shops. There is one shop that we do not pass when we are in Karibib and that one sells gemstones and rock crystals. It looks like nothing from the outside, but inside it is huge with the things that glitter which stops a woman's heart. sighhhh

 I need some information here regarding the photo (above).  Please take a close look.  The large obvious plant without leaves is a Cyphostemm species, I want information on the plant with the thin branches next to the Cyphostemma. The plant with the thin long greyish branches and pretty seedpods which look like wings of a bird flying. Those pods are large. One pod is nearly the length of my hand.  In the background is the Karibib police station.

At Usakos the plants were dry with no sign of the wide spread rain that fell in the rest of the country. The Aloe hereroensis in the old cemetery were not in flower like Aloe hereroensis in the southern areas of Namibia. Some of the aloes showed a faint green coloring in the center of the rosette assuring me that these aloes are tough, they will survive.

The dust road to Hanties bay. The grass fields in the desert are unbelieveable !  We never saw so much grass in the desert before. The local habitants (mainly small animals and insects) did not experrience this in a century.

The main road between Swakopmund and Walvis bay. Lovely picturesque dunes.
Below:- The crane pulling the fishing boat out of the sea. The fishing boat is past the point of seafaring ever again, it will be sold as scrap.

Imagine what it would have been like centuries ago to land on this shore. Nothing but large dunes. Not altogether so bad as the mouth of the Swakop river is less than 5 kilometres away. Skeleton Coast starts to the north, but anybody shipwrecked would not be able to get far without water on this coast, even if they are not yet in the skeleton coast area.

One of the trees adapted to the life in the desert. The branches are not higher than 40 cm at the most and the diameter of the tree with all branches included is not quite 2 m. but the tree is actually larger as the main stem is underground like a huge water reservoir.

Aloe asperifolia can survive the desert habitat very well. The plants are in excellent condition with the pale green plants showing new growth. The thick leaves are full of moisture which are absorbed dew or fog from the sea-air.
Most plants have bloomed out. The single raceme with flowers that we saw was very small and not much to look at. It happens that aloes send out a sub-standard raceme after it bloomed. It shows the typical sideway growth of the inflorescens.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Windhoek Namibia

aloe littoralis the pride of Windhoek Namibia. Aloe littoralis is on the emblem of Windhoek city. Aloe littoralis is a tall tree aloe hardy from below freezing to sizzling summer temperatures. The outstanding point about Aloe littoralis for the garden is that it blooms from a young age.
Windhoek is the capital city of Namibia. This neat clean city without smog, is situated between mountains on an uneven hilly terrain. Wild animals like the Kudu, jackal and different small mongooses can be seen in the hills around the city, especially in times of drought.

The habitat of Aloe littoralis is North- western  Province of South Africa, all the way up through Namibia up to Angola, to the east into Botswana and a short distance into the northern Province of South Africa. Photo below shows the dry winter scene in Namiba. Aloe littoralis blooms early winter before frost can damage the blooms and seeds.

A visit to the botanical garden in Windhoek is certainly worth the effort for succulent plant enthusiasts and anybody who would enjoy to see the endemic trees and rare plants of Namibia. The botanical garden covers a large area over the hill with walking trails.

Aloe dewinterii planted in the botanical garden the same way as it grows in the natural habitat - hanging from cliffs.

The baboons tend to be a dangerous nuisance. They are cute to look at, but they can attack and the males are large enough to kill a human or dog. The photo below is from a large handsome male who saw the ripe papaw in the garden and decided that it was just what he wanted. We did not want to agitate him so we took the photo through the kitchen window. This gives the impression that he is behind bars, but we were strictly speaking behind the bars not him.

The wild life in and around Windhoek includes many cute animal like this gecko.

Gorgeous little fellow. Those large eyes are handy for his nightlife adventures. He can run on the ceiling by tiny slits under his feet that form a suction on the substrate. His feet feel like velvet if he is on your hand. I do hope the old tale that they are poisonous has been cleared in modern times. He will hiss to try and defend himself and his bite feels like a soft pinch. It does not even leave a red mark, far from drawing blood, let alone the ridiculous poison tale.  My guess is the hissing reminded people of a snake and from there the poisonous tale.

The little gecko will run if he is on a wall but on this carpet he thinks that he will disappear like when he is on the bark of a tree, so he remains still. This works out fine in nature on a camelthorn tree but at night on a carpet some-one will step on him. Consequently any gecko on the carpet, no matter how cute he looks, is put outside.