Linking nicely with last week’s Giant Playground…the Quiver Tree Forest is a great tourist attraction in Namibia. Located just north-east of Keetmanshoop, this attraction can be found nice and close to the playground.
Please remember that this is no storybook forest, however it is still quite a sight to see. Around about 250 quiver trees can be found in this area. Scientifically named Aloe dichotoma, this unique tree has a funny story behind its name.
The San people who used to populate the area, once used the branches from these trees to make their quivers. The tree was named by Simon van der Stel in 1685, after he heard the story about the quivers.
The forest grew spontaneously and the oldest trees are estimated to be around two to three centuries old. This African forest was declared a National Monument on 1 June 1995.
Something that makes this tree very interesting as well, is the fact that it looks like they grow upside down. This is because of the leaves that look very much like roots. It is also believed that these trees have a ‘holy’ status in some local religions.
These unusual-looking trees can reach heights anywhere between three and nine metres and only bloom once they are between 20 and 30 years old. Quiver trees are endemic to the Nama Karoo in the south of Namibia and along the Great Escarpment in the west.
They have successfully adapted to the fluctuating annual rainfall in these areas, and commonly occur on the slopes or tops of hills and scattered across rocky plains.
The tree’s stem and branches consist of a spongy fibre that can store large quantities of water over long periods of time. Their leaves have a smooth and waxy surface that prevents moisture from evaporating.
A vertical stem protects the tree from direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day and the yellowish bark and thin layer of white powder on the branches reflect most of the sunlight away from the tree.
The rough and scaly bark is thought to be an additional and remarkable internal cooling adaptation to cope with the harsh surroundings.
Quiver trees were declared to be endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in 2010.
This is mostly due to climate change and the increasing heat and decreasing rainfall in southern Namibia. The trees grow in generations, with each generation potentially reaching between 100 and 120 years.
The younger trees however need to get sufficient water for several consecutive years for them to mature successfully. With the long drought that has plagued the region, there has been little opportunity for young trees to reach maturity.
Subsequently, as the older trees are dying out and with younger trees not growing optimally, their numbers have decreased.
But we hope to keep this from happening! When you find yourself in that part of the country again, make a point of checking out the Quiver Tree Forest and enjoy the sight of hundreds of trees growing ‘upside down’.
If you would like to go visit the Quiver Tree Forest , you can start by heading north-east for about 14km from Keetmanshoop. It will cost you about N$50.00 per person for admissions for the day.
The best time to enjoy this sight is during the winter months when it is not as hot. The Gondwana Canyon properties are a fantastic base camp to use when viewing the surrounding areas.
If you have any stories or information of the Quiver Trees and Forest, please share them with us in the comment section below.
Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.