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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa



Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Botany covers a wide range of scientific disciplines concerned with the study of plants, algae and fungi, including structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, diseases, chemical properties, and evolutionary relationships among taxonomic groups. Botany began with early human efforts to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making it one of the oldest sciences. Today botanists study over 550,000 species of living organisms and two plants have been declared national monuments in Namibia.

The Baobab Tree
This baobab tree was at the time of being proclaimed a National Monument one of the biggest of its species known in Namibia. Since then even larger baobabs, such as the ones at Tsandi and Ombalantu and the one at Keibib, have been recorded in the northern regions of Namibia. The Afrikaans name for the baobab is Kremetart, a corruption of 'cream of tartar' tree.

Baobab trees frequently live for between 1,000 - 3,000 years. This remarkable feat can be attributed to a number of factors such as:

  • There are no known serious pests or diseases of the baobab.
  • As it is a trunk succulent, it has a high resistance to drought and fire.
  • On favorable sites, baobabs have a high growth rate; 2m in height over 2 years and 12m over 15 years have been measured.
  • The baobab plays host to a number of noxious crop insects that attack other trees.

The baobab is a great shade tree as well as an outstanding landmark. It has many uses including:

  • The leaves are used for forage.
  • Herdsmen scale the tree for lopping.
  • Small ruminants eat the fruit pulp.
  • Sprouts and roots of young plants are eaten like asparagus, but are considered more of a famine food.
  • The bark from the lower part of the stem of younger trees can be used as a valuable fiber for cordage, fishing nets, baskets, cloth and mats and is often used for tying up huts and homesteads of local people.
  • The bark can also be used for the treatment of fevers, infections, arrow poison, wound disinfection, and as a mouthwash for toothache.
  • The leaves can be used for treating insect bites and as a prophylactic against fever, asthma and coughs.
  • The fruit is used to cure malaria, smallpox and measles.
  • The seeds are used for dental disorders.
  • The roots can also be used to cure malaria and sores.
  • A red dye can be produced from the roots.
  • The ash of baobab is used as a fertilizer or in making soap.
  • Smoke from burning fruit pulp is an insect repellent.

This great tree is situated approximately 1.5km north-east of the homestead of the Keibib Farm near Grootfontein. It was declared a national monument on 2nd July 1951.

  • The Quiver Tree Forest
    The Quiver Tree Forest monument was recorded in the Official Gazette as being 'a spectacular collection of quiver trees near Keetmanshoop and were described as 'consisting of approximately 250-300 large Aloe dishotoma trees, spread over an area of approximately 500 by 500 yards (457.2 by 457.2m). The quiver tree gets its name from the habit of the indigenous San Bushmen who made quivers from the branches of the plant as containers for their (poisonous) arrows.

  • It deserves to be celebrated as one of Namibia's national monuments as it is one of the most interesting and characteristic plants that grows in a hot, dry southern region of the country. It is found in Namibia from Keetmanshoop as far north as Usakos.
  • Botanists have been unable to determine the age of the trees in this forest, and carbon dating in South Africa shows that the quiver tree does not live exceptionally long and claims that they can attain an age of thousands of years are pure speculation and unfounded. But it is believed that large trees up to 5m in height could be some 200 years old.
  • A number of settlers, explorers and travelers have 'discovered' the quiver tree species. The South African settler, Simon van der Stel found them on an expedition in Namaqualand in 1685 and was sketched by the party's artist, Hendrik Claudius. Other specimens were collected and drawn over the 17th and 18th centuries since Stel, including Thomas Baines who saw the tree in 1866 near Roodeberg, 105km east-south-east of Walvis Bay. The strange landscape of ridges of rough red rock studded with pebbles and flashing crystals, proved to be too good an opportunity for him to miss, and he made a sketch on the spot. It is believed to be the first reproduction of any kind of the quiver tree as a whole in its natural setting.
  • The trunk of the quiver tree can grow to a height of 10m and up to 1.2m in diameter near the base. Its branches are naked and dichotomous (dividing into pairs). At the end of the branches the leaves are crowded, fleshy, and free of spots with spiny margins. The leaves can grow up to 30cm long.
  • Flowers of the quiver tree are tubular-oblong and yellow in colour and the multi-trunked quiver trees of this forest flower in the winter and early spring months. Higher periods of precipitation are associated with higher growth patterns. It is not unusual for a quiver tree to having from between one trunk with a single rosette of leaves, to growing many branches with many leaf-rosettes. This is a feature of these strange but wonderful looking plants in this forest.
  • The Quiver Tree Forest is situated on the Farm Gariganus, only 25km east of the town of Keetmanshoop in the Karas Region. It was proclaimed a national monument on 1st June 1955.
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