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THE QUIVER TREE FOREST ON GANNABOS

The biggest quiver tree forest in the southern hemisphere is been found here, on the farm Gannbos. The quiver tree or "Kokerboom is one of the most interesting and characteristic plants. The plants are usually found growing single but in some areas the plants grow in larger groups, and giving the effect of a forest, like on the farm Gannabos.


Actually it is no tree, but an aloe plant. The botanical name is ALOE DICHOTOMA.


The plant is called a "Kokerboom" because some Bushmen and Hottentot tribes used the tough, pliable bark and branches to make quivers for their arrows.


Dichotoma refers to the forked branches of the plant.


Because the kokerboom is an aloe, it has fibrous wood. Like all succulents it has developed specialised way of living in areas of erratic and little rainfall. The kokerboom soaks up water and stores it in its succulent leaves.


People cut the trunks into squares and used them to construct walls. Water was then fed into the fibrous wood from a tank placed at the top.


The trees in the forest are natural. No trees have been planted by humans.


The big trees in the forest are between 200 and 300 years old.


The species Aloe dichotoma has been known to scientists since 1685, when it was discovered during Governor Simon van der Stel's expedition to Namaqualand in search of copper.


The quiver tree is a stout tree up to 9 meters high with a smooth trunk which can be up to one meter in diameter at ground level. The leaves are greyish-green and the flowers are bright yellow.


It is often encountered growing at the most precarious positions, such as on the edges of canyons, possibly relishing the cool updrafts of wind. The rocks anchor the plants which have a spread-root-system.


They have their first flowers when they are about 15 to 25 years old. The flowering-season is in the winter during May, June and July.


Swarms of birds and locusts are drawn by the sweet nectar of the quiver tree's flowers, and baboons have been known to strip off the blossoms in search of the liquid.