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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gannabos Quiver Tree Forest Nieuwoudtville - part 3 of 3

If you are looking for a place where time stands still, come to the Ancient treasure of South Africa's floral heritage, Gannabos near Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape.  

The name Quiver comes from the Khoisan who would come to this forest prior to a big hunt, to source these hollow branches for a holder of their poisoned hunting arrows.  These trees made excellent holders for the hunters tools, hence the name it is famous for : Quiver Trees.  The scientific name is Aloe Dichotoma.  We would love to have been here for an evening photo, but time was not on our side.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Gannabos Quiver Tree Forest Nieuwoudtville - Part 2 of 3

We were on our annual 'pilgrimage' to find the best wild flowers of the Western Cape and Nieuwoudtville was recommended to us by a good friend who is also passionate about the Aloe Dichotoma.  He specifically recommended that we visit this natural beauty of quiver trees, and we were not disappointed at all.   We saw more quiver trees here than we saw in the entire Richtersveld.

Gannabos is located 30km outside of Nieuwoudtville on the famous Rondekop / Naresie wildflower route.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gannabos Quiver Tree Forest part 1 of 3

To find the worlds largest quiver tree forest (aka Aloe Dichotoma), head over to Gannabos near Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape of South Africa.  Here you can experience pure nature and true Hantam Karoo hospitality.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Milky Way from Nieuwoudtville

It would be a cardinal sin if one escaped the bright city lights for a few nights on the farm, and you forget to take home a reminder of what we sleep under every night.  These beautiful stars that form our Milky Way, must never be forgotten.

So when the sun sets after a long day of shooting the flowers of Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape, try not to forget to switch of all the lights and take a walk outside...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Flowers for Africa in the Northern Cape

The first week of flowers at the Matjiesfontein Guest Farm, Nieuwoudtville proved to be spectacular. 

This was only the start of what is to come for the flower season 2016 of this small town in the Northern Cape of South Africa. So if you wish to find a special spot this weekend, head over to the Bulb Capital of the World for a memorable display of flowers, bugs, stars and fresh air.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Scorpion of the Northern Cape Parabuthus Stridulus

This scorpion was about 1 cm in body size, shot with a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens.  We stumbled upon this little fellow when our 2 year old son was picking up rocks to throw around, whilst we were admiring the Quiver Tree Forest of Gannabos farm.  

According to the information below from Biodiversity Explorer, a thick tail scorpion uses its tail to burrow, but they also mention that the thicker the tail, the more venomous. 

Lesson learnt here: no stone throwing in the desert ;)

"Parabuthus is an Afrotropical genus with 20 of the 28 species endemic to southern Africa. It occurs in areas of less than 600 mm of rain per annum and is absent in southern Africa from the extreme Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal, much of the Free State and the Highveld. The distribution extends northwards through eastern Africa to the Arabian Peninsula. Parabuthus avoids moist or humid conditions and is thus absent from tropical central and the western bulge of Africa.

It is a psammophilous scorpion adapted to areas of soft to hard gritty soil. They all dig shallow burrows in sand at the base of shrubs, under rock, logs or any suitable cover. The females are normally sedentary, staying at home, while males of certain species are lapidocolous, using any available cover during its wanderings or may even excavate a new burrow.

Parabuthus range in size from 40 to 140 mm long, usually longer than 70 mm. Parabuthus schlechteri, traansvaalicus and villosus are the largest buthids in the world, measuring up to 140 mm. The colour ranges from a yellow through brown to black without any of the characteristic markings found on other buthid scorpions. The legs are usually lighter in colour than the body. Most species have a very robust tail with the first 2 tail segments having nodes or ridges across which the aculeus (sting) is scraped producing a stridulatory, warning hiss. Some species stridulate more readily than others do. 

Parabuthus is also the only buthid scorpion in southern Africa to stridulate in this way.

Parabuthus scorpions are of great medical importance and all species must be regarded as potentially lethal. In the north-western Cape scorpions are more of a problem than snakebite with the reverse being the case in Kwazulu/Natal.

The quick acting venom negates the need for large chelae which are only used to hold onto its prey while being stung and unlike the thin-tailed scorpions, the chelae are not used to kill or hold onto its prey while succumbing to the weak venom. Whether there is any logical connection between chela size and tail thickness is still debatable as Parabuthus also uses the thick tail for burrowing. The tail with stinger is held over the head ready to strike but Parabuthus can also execute a sideways defensive jab – so do not try and pick it up with the fingers!

Gerry Newlands was the first to mention that certain Buthidae scorpions spray venom up to 1 metre and the fifth metosomal (tail) segments of these scorpions are enlarged. The 3 species cited are Parabuthus schlechteri, P. transvaalicus and P. villosus. This has not yet  been documented conclusively and is refuted by some experts – so lets get it on video!"   

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Quiver Tree Forest of Nieuwoudtville

The Quiver Tree Forest is 25 km north of the town Nieuwoudtville Cape on the Loeriesfontein road. At the Gannabos sign, turn right onto a gravel road and travel along this road for about 5km. The Quiver Tree Forest is the second largest in the world and the southernmost concentration of Quiver Trees in South Africa.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

South African Cat's Tail bulb

Bulbinella robusta yellow flowers of South African Cat's Tail bulb. Pic taken in Nieuwoudtville Cape Aug 2016.

"Bulbinella is a genus of plant in the family Asphodelaceae, ] first described as a genus in 1843. Many species are endemic to Cape Province in western South Africa, confined to the winter rainfall area. Other species are endemic to New Zealand, where they are most common in the central Otago region which enjoys a similar climate to the Cape Region of South Africa.

They are characterised by the presence of a dense terminal raceme of flowers, often yellow but also white, pink, yellow or orange depending on the species. One of the New Zealand species only species with white and yellow flowers. Each flower occurs in the axil of a bract and has 1 nerved perianth segments that are almost free. Each flower has 6 stamens. The seeds are characteristically shield shaped and there are one or two seeds in each chamber.

The plants may grow up to 1 metre in height and have narrow or thread like but never succulent leaves. The leaves decay into prominent fibres at the base of the stem, often netted or reticulate in appearance, although this feature is absent from the New Zealand species. They tend to overwinter and aestivate with wiry or swollen tubers."   Bulbinella, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia