Iconic Desert Aloe
Mature quiver trees flower and disperse seeds every year. However, climatic conditions are not always conducive to germination so a crop of youngsters may only appear and survive every few years when the conditions are ideal.
Conservation biologist Wendy Foden found a strong correlation between leaf-dropping and the mortality rate throughout the quiver tree communities in the desert region of the Knersvlakte. Both factors followed latitudinal gradients that indicated greater die-back was occurring the further north the team went in the aloe's distribution. When the trees started shedding leaves, it meant they were on their way out. It also showed that long-term stress was the likely cause of death. Sometimes an amputated branch would send out a shoot below the stump and begin growing again - but this only happened when a rare time of abundance saved the tree from drought. It appeared that neither disease nor predation could explain the damage and death of this iconic desert aloe.
Until now, the quiver tree's southern range has probably been limited near Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape by higher rainfall and fungus....more
More recently, disturbing news emerged from Namibia suggesting that all might not be well in the kokerboomwoude (quiver tree forests) of the desert....more
Their range stretches from the Namaqualand near Nieuwoudtville and Loeriesfontein in the south to Brandberg in the Nama Desert; from Prieska in the east to Swakopmund in the west....more