Quiver tree…. Arrow quivers grow on trees?..

Aloe dichotoma (the quiver tree or kokerboom) is a tall, branching species of aloe, indigenous to Southern Africa, specifically in the Northern Cape region of South Africa, and parts of Southern Namibia.

I’m in the Northern Cape and have tried to capture this tree on camera, in such a way as to show how impressive this tree actually is…

This from Wikipedia.. “Known as Choje to the indigenous San people, the quiver tree gets its English common name from their practice of hollowing out the tubular branches of Aloe dichotoma to form quivers for their arrows. The species name "dichotoma" refers to how the stems repeatedly branch into two ("dichotomous" branching) as the plant grows.”

Here are a few photos…





Lala palm,Ilala palm, Gingerbread tree, Fan palm..

Lala palm, ilala palm, gingerbread tree, fan palm (Hyphaene coriacea)

This palm is often seen growing near but not on the banks of rivers in knob thorn-marula savannah on basalt. In the Kruger Park both southern African species of Hyphaene may be found quite close to each other. It is also common in coastal sand from Somalia to South Africa, and in Madagascar. This common and widespread palm neither needs nor receives protection. The estimated population in Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) alone is at over 10 000 000 individuals.

Plants flower in summer (November-February in our area), and the fruit takes two years to ripen; ripe fruit may remain attached to the tree for a further two years before falling. Elephants and baboons are known to eat and presumably disperse the fruits of this palm. Nichols (2001) reports examining seeds from elephant dung-each of them was cracked and when planted germinated within 30 days, whereas non cracked seeds took at least 90 days or longer. The palm cunningly uses the elephant to carry its seed well away from the mother plant and deposit it ready chipped for germination along with a large pile of manure to aid growth!

As a youngster I used to collect this seed and shave off the outer skins to get to the white centre which is known as “vegetable Ivory”, it is extremely hard and as school kids we played the equivalent of conkers with these seeds. Ones only success was in breaking the others string, never the seed itself… they are often seen decorating the head of a walking stick or carve into small tourist trade shapes…

These are on the golf course at Southbroom and it looks as though the wind has something to do with their growing shape…


Even one growing in the middle of the ninth green…


The seed hanging on the palm…


and a close up of the seed…


African Spurred Tortoise.. or so they tell me..

African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata)

The African spurred tortoise  is the largest tortoise of the African mainland, and is surpassed in size only by the giant island species from Aldabra and Galápagos.

Adults are usually 24 to 36 in long (60–90 cm) and can weigh 100-200 lb. (45 – 91 kg). They grow from hatchling size (2-3 in) very quickly, reaching 6-10 in (15–25 cm) within the first few years of their lives. The lifespan of an African spurred tortoise is about 50-150 years, though they can live much longer.

I just loved the look of this reptiles head, with the scales or markings…




Crocodile… the Nile Crocodile..

Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)

Never buy one as a pet… it will bite you, guaranteed… it’s the second largest living reptile in the world, after the saltwater crocodile (don’t buy one of these also, you can’t take it out for a walk on the beach, it’ll take to the sea and you’ll lose it)

The male crocodile measure from 3.5 to 5 m (11 ft. 6 in to 16 ft. 5 in) long, but the old, mature ones can grow to 5.5 m (18 ft. 1 in) or more. Mature females measure 2.4 to 3.8 m (7 ft. 10 in to 12 ft. 6 in). Now that could be a bit big to carry around on your shoulder…

The nostrils, eyes, and ears are situated on the top of the head, so the rest of the body can remain concealed underwater. This is not good news for those that swim in rivers like I did years ago, or for that matter for their prey. They can lie still in an ambush position for hours, days, weeks and, I wanted to say months, but that might be stretching it a little far, till their prey has entered the kill zone.

A short sharp swish of the tail and it will lock its jaws on its prey with an extremely powerful bite, unique amongst animals with sharp conical teeth that pierce into flesh allowing for a grip that is impossible to loosen. Applying high levels of force for extended periods of time, a great way to aid it drown you or its prey.


Don’t be fooled by that grin and smiley face, he wants you to have a false sense of security… then he can eat you… the lazy so and so…

This must be considered the laziest predator alive, what with swimming all day or sunning yourself on the banks and then lying around in the water waiting for your prey to get near enough to you to catch it….

Nile crocodiles are sociability orientated creatures. They’ll share tanning spots and large food, such as schools of fish and big carcasses. There is however a strict hierarchy, that is determined by size. Large, old males are at the top and have first claim to food and best basking spots. Crocodiles know their place in the hierarchical order and rarely step out of line, as this could results in a very bloody and sometimes even fatal battle.


As an eye opens to see if I’m close enough to eat… no my friend I’m on full zoom…

Nile crocodiles lay eggs to reproduce, (wonder if one could pickle them) which are guarded by the female. The hatchlings are protected for a period of time, but hunt by themselves. The Nile crocodile is one of the most dangerous species of crocodile and is responsible for hundreds of deaths of humans every year.


So damn ugly that in a way he’s beautiful…