Aloe dichotoma

Thank you to occasional BPotD photo contributor Amir Auerbach of Israel for sharing today’s photograph via email. I’m making the assumption based on the file name of what he submitted that today’s photograph was taken in the Richtersveld area, a high desert landscape in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.

Aloe dichotoma, the quiver tree or kokerboom, is endemic to this area of South Africa (and neighbouring Namibia with its Namib Desert). Its common name of quiver tree is due to the species being used by the indigenous peoples for the production of quivers. These arrow-holding tools were constructed by hollowing out lengths of mature branches, then covering one end with a piece of leather. Dead plants of this species are also hollowed out and used as natural fridges for meat, vegetables and water.

The South Africa National Biodiversity Institute has an always-excellent article on Aloe dichotoma for additional reading.

Aloe dichotoma

9 responses to “Aloe dichotoma”

  1. Marilyn Brown

    How do the hollowed branches serve as natural fridges, as opposed to ordinary vessels, for meat, vegetable and water ? Do they provide insulation for something already chilled, or do they have qualities that actually lower the temperature ? Fascinating !

  2. sergioniebla

    Gracias por compartir … Es una pena que no podamos contemplar toda la belleza de esta hermosa planta … Algo le falta a esta foto que no se puede disfrutar!!!

  3. Daniel Mosquin

    Marilyn, apparently the fibres that line the inside of the trunk wouldn’t be hollowed out, and the flowing air passing through these fibres has a cooling effect. I’m not sure I understand the physics of such a mechanism.

  4. Diana Ferguson

    Great scene. Is it really Xanthorrhoeaceae? No more Aloeaceae? or just another treatment of Aloe?

  5. Cherries Walks

    The refrigeration process works like the basements of adjoining houses in the Aosta valley of Italy. They allow a cool air flow in an area that is at a constant 10 degrees.

  6. Ida Hay

    In addition to the interesting info on this plant, I enjoy the green against green beauty of the photo itself. Always great to see photos that depict the plant and its surrounding landscape.

  7. Trisha in Texas

    As there is no object in the photo for reference I see a small bush with large leaves or a tree with HUGE leaves. Either way it is an awesome plant.

  8. elizabeth a airhart

    daniels last link explains the tree and how it is used as a fridge
    nature even provides a place to keep your food cool !
    fine photo click on the picture and it will enlarge for you
    thank you daniel and company

  9. Eric in SF

    Diana,
    The new APG III taxonomy has swung over to a more lumping view of things rather than splitting, and many families we know and love have been lumped into bigger families.
    See
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angiosperm_Phylogeny_Group#APG_III_.282009.29
    for a brief overview.

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