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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa



Namib Hoodia

One of the Namib Desert's most celebrated plants is the Namib Hoodia (Hoodia currorii) that occurs from the central Namib to southern Angola. It is found mainly on plains and sometimes in rocky places such as around Hoodia Lodge in Sossusvlei. (Hoodia currorii) has remarkable appetite-reducing qualities, a fact known for ever and a day by the locals, but recently used by the general public for its pharmaceutical use (who claim it as their own discovery!) It can also be eaten to lower blood pressure, cure colds and is an aid to indigestion.
Namib hoodia can grow up to 1m in height and after the rains, its 'fresh-coloured, showy flowers decorate the plains of the Desert. The flowers can reach a hand's breadth in size, but unfortunately can smell of carrion and attract pollinators including flies. There are 10 Hoodia species in Namibia that can only be distinguished from each other by their flowers. Namib Hoodia is a protected species.

Bushman Candle

Common in most of the western parts of the southern Namib is the bushman's candle (Sarcocaulon patersonii). It can be found around the coastal town of Luderitz area down to the Northern Cape. It is a spiny shrub with thick stems and a 'waxy bark'. The large flowers bloom in a variety of colours that can transform the landscape beautifully into a magnificent desert flower show. Colours range from dark pink to almost white.

Bushman's Candle is often associated with plain habitats and also occurs on the (lower) slopes of inselbergs. This particular species is also confused with some of the other 9 species of Sarcocaulon found in Namibia. Identification is easier once both flowers and leaves are evident.


A yearly but short lived event is the bloom of the lilies on Sandhof Pan about 40 kilometers from Maltahohe. Why the Paludosum only grows in this area is still a mystery.
Once the yearly rains start in January or February and the pan fills to more than 30 centimeters, it will take about five to seven days for the flowers to grow and bloom. The lilies can cover up to seven hundred hectares. Together with the flowers a horde of elephant beetles arrive seemingly out of nowhere to devour on these delicacies, but when the flowers fade, so do the beetles.

The lily in question is the bushveld vlei lily Crinum Paludosum. It is part of the amaryllis genus of plants and can be found in several countries in southern Africa. As yet, hardly any research has been done on this mass display of flowers – nor on the weevil (Brachycerus inornatus) which appears together with the lilies, feeds on them and also disappears with them. The insect is about 5 cm long and a member of the snout beetle family.

Visitors from abroad are very lucky indeed if they have the chance to see the lilies in bloom. For many Namibians the display of flowers is a good reason for a weekend trip.

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