19 April 2012

Quiver tree

The quiver tree (Source)
Wow, God is so good. "Q" What on earth begins with "Q" in Africa? I got to "P" for penguins and hit a brick wall. I thought maybe I should write about Queen Elizabeth's visit to South Africa in 1947 but that's not Africa, it's British Royalty. Then the only other word I could think of was Questioning, questioning what?  Anyway I had been sitting at the computer for two whole days writing blog posts and the old noggin wasn't working too good anymore. I took a break and asked the Lord to give me a word starting with "Q" and then went to lie down for a few minutes to rest. 
While I was lying there I started thinking about quinine, A remedy for malaria that allowed the colonization of most of Africa by Europeans. Previously Africa had been known as the "White Man's Grave" due to the inordinate number of deaths of explorers caused by the Anopheles mosquito bite that transmits malaria.
Quinine isn't African, but South American and comes from the Cinchona tree bark. Mixed with sweetened water it becomes Tonic Water and because the British were so fond of Gin they would add it to the tonic water which contained quinine, thus was born Gin and Tonic. All very interesting but not really African. Well after a while, having rejected Queen, Questioning and Quinine, I suddenly thought of the word Quiver tree. This is not a word I use or even think about, certainly not with regard to Africa. I got up, returned to my computer, still un rested but too restless to keep on lying down, and Google'd Quiver tree. Hey presto! Kokerboom, that's what I know them as, not quiver trees. I've been to the Richtersveld where these trees come from, Andy's got one growing outside his office down the road, I love them. God really is amazing, I would never even have thought about Quiver tree without him. Thank you Lord.
Architectural gem
Oh, by the way, you can buy these trees in the United States but they will cost you plenty. The quiver tree is cultivated in the South Western States for landscaping purposes.
Now, back to the Kokerboom. 
They are indigenous to the Richtersveld and Namibia along the Orange River, that's the river that forms the border between Namibia and South Africa, (Western side of South Africa). This is desert country, with annual rainfall only being about 5mm, and temperatures rising to as high as 52 degrees centigrade. The Orange river itself is down in a deep canyon, something like the Grand Canyon but smaller while these trees grow up on the open plain.
In order to cope with the temperatures, they  have a blinding white powder on their branches that reflects the sunlight to keep cool. They are also succulents and so store water in their leaves and trunks. The leaves sort of sprout from the tops of the branches giving them this crazy hairstyle that reminds me of some of the cartoon characters I knew as a child. I've not seen them flowering but believe their flowers are edible and look and taste like asparagus. I'll take their word for it. Another African marvel, the name quiver tree comes from the time when Bushmen hollowed out the branches of this tree and used them as quivers for their arrows. 
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you the Quiver tree, a true African Queen.


  1. That was interesting! I loved this!
    Sorry I haven't been over in a while. Been super busy!

  2. What an amazing design by God. All of your A-Q posts have been so interesting, I am sure the rest won't be disappointing.

  3. This is the coolest tree ever! I love spiky plants.