Aloe dichotoma is a Southern African tree species which can grow up to 9m tall. The tree is found in very dry habitats in Namibia and South Africa and provides food and shelter for many insects, mammals and birds. It has a striking appearance and yellow flowers in the summer.
These trees are used for various purposes. The English name, Quiver tree, refers to the use of its hollowed branches by the San people to make quivers for their arrows. Medicinally, the roots can be used to treat asthma and tuberculosis. Aloe dichotoma is also cultivated as an ornamental.
Aloe dichotoma is protected by law in South Africa, preventing the removing of plants from the wild or collecting of seeds without a permit. However, juvenile plants are often taken to grow as garden ornamentals. Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, this species is under threat from climate change. Recent studies have suggested that the tree’s range is changing with the temperature. Trees growing nearer the equator and at low altitudes are suffering higher mortality as these areas have the highest temperatures. The range of this species is contracting and it is not yet known whether it will expand into cooler areas in the future.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – Quiver tree : http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Aloe-dichotoma.htm
Foden, W. et al. (2007). A changing climate is eroding the geographical range of the Namib Desert tree Aloe through population declines and dispersal lags. Diversity and Distributions. 13: 645-653.
Photo credit: © Caroline Auzias
Did you know?
Over exploitation of the huarango tree led to ecological devastation and the consequent downfall of a pre-inca civilisation, known as the Nasca.