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Contents

Foreword Introduction How to use this guide The area around Gobabeb Endemism Protection Alien species

Acknowledgements The plants Grasses and sedges Leaf succulents Stem succulents Bulbs Herbs Multi-seasonals Shrubs Trees

Glossary List of plants References


Foreword This guide is the result of my thesis project for my BSc degree in biology, which I have done as an intern at the Gobabeb Training and Research Centre in Namibia in collaboration with the department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeå University in Sweden, during ten weeks in May – July 2008. I came to Gobabeb with the intention of doing a purely scientific study, and I only used the opportunity to compile a field guide of the plants around Gobabeb as a side project. However, due to my keen interest in amateur photography over the last ten years, my knack for creativity, and most importantly, my great interest in the desert plants and their adaptations, I decided to try to make this my main project. Fortunately both my supervisors, Johan Olofsson in Umeå and Joh Henschel at Gobabeb, agreed to this and I could begin my excursions around the area with my camera and my notebook. I have had great help from the previous binder that existed at Gobabeb since 1998, made by a former intern from Germany, Sabine Pröls, whose collection I have basically updated and extended. I have also used the “Checklist of the flora and vertebrates of Gobabeb” (Henschel et al. 2006) as a support as I have worked on the identification for the plants. This is not to mention the pile of books that have occupied my desk that I have dived in to over and over again in my search for the right information about the right species. A complete plant guide is a true challenge in a place like this since different species are seen year to year, all depending on the rainfall pattern. The central Namib, for a hyper-arid place, is remarkably rich in plant species, and I was lucky to come to Gobabeb at a time when exceptionally good rains had fallen (83,5 mm during the rainy season Feb-April 2008), and the area was relatively green and diverse in both annuals and perennials. Because of this diversity, I could by no means find all the species there is to find around Gobabeb during the time I have been working on this project. This is why I decided to make this guide more valuable over a longer time by making it possible to add sheets of new plants (by not binding it up as a book, but instead with a spiral). It is my wish that anyone who is interested will include extra sheets as new plants are found and photographed, to make this guide as complete as possible. The purpose of the guide is to be an aid when identifying plants in and around Gobabeb during any activity that requires such a tool, thus a strict delimitation of a specific area is not practical. The plants in this guide are mostly from the immediately vicinity of Gobabeb or areas a bit further away, as I have taken rides with student groups or people doing various research projects. Despite these areas, which consist of Hope Mine, Kahani Dune, Homeb, Khommabes etc., I have also included pictures by Joh Henschel of plants that also can be found in “Checklist of the flora and vertebrates of Gobabeb” (Henschel et al. 2006). I hope my work will be of great help for Gobabeb staff as well as for future interns, researchers and visitors at Gobabeb who wish to become more familiar with the plants around this unique and stunning area. Maja Sjöskog, July 2008

Hexacyrtis dickiana


Introduction How to use this guide The three ecosystems in the area (gravel plains, riverbed and dunes) can provide a good method of dividing the plants, and is a convenient way for fast identification. But since many of the plants overlap between the three ecosystems, there would be too many repetitions. That is why the species covered in this guide have been arranged in eight different groups according to their growth form, with inspiration from the system used in “Wild Flowers of the Central Namib” by Antje Burke (2003). Group 1 Grasses and sedges

Group 2 Leaf succulents Group 3 Stem succulents Group 4 Bulbs Group 5 Herbs Group 6 Multi-seasonals Group 7 Shrubs Group 8 Trees

Grasses are tuft-forming or creeping plants with long, narrow leaves, flat stems and leaves (which may curl and appear rounded) and without brightly colored flowers. Sedges are monocot flowering plants that resemble grasses, but have triangular stems (with occasional exceptions) and leaves that are spirally arranged in three ranks. Succulents have a more swollen appearance than other plants, and plants in this group store water in their leaves which give them thicker leaves. They can be tall or small shrubs, but they are usually shorter than 1 m. The stem succulents have swollen stems because of the storage of water that occur there, an usual adaptation to the dry conditions in deserts. They can grow higher than the leaf succulents. Bulbs have underground storage organs that are called bulbs or rhizomes, and the above-ground parts only appear after good rains. These plats are often striking with colorful flowers. These are flowering plants whose stem does not produce woody tissue, and they are often short-lived, generally dying back at the end of each growing season. They rely on seeds that can lay dormant for many years. The plants in this group may grow in several years, all depending on the local water availability. They show features that cause them to resemble herbs, but the difference in lifetime is crucial. Woody plants with several stems that arise from the base constitute this group. Around Gobabeb these are the most conspicuous components of the vegetation, as they are always present. Trees are woody plants with secondary branches supported clear from the ground by one single stem or trunk with a clear apical dominance. Their height usually extends 2 m.

On each plant identification sheet, in the upper right hand side, the family name can be seen together with the common name for the family. The scientific name is the header, and the common names can be found below the picture of the plant. The habitats these plants can be found in are stated to help with identification (a further explanation of these is seen below this text). The distribution of the plant, a description for identification, some relevant ecology of the plant and potential uses are also included on each sheet, as far as information was found when this guide was put together. To help with identification, a glossary together with a schematic picture of a grass plant is also included in the back.

The area around Gobabeb As part of the Namib Naukluft Park, the Gobabeb Training and Research Centre is situated in the central Namib Desert, a hyper-arid area with only a median annual rainfall of 12 mm (Henschel et al, 2006) and an annual potential evaporation about 160 times higher (Henschel et al, 2003). The ephemeral Kuiseb River lies just to the north of the centre, and separates the Namib sand sea from the central Namib gravel plains. These three major habitats are marked out in this guide as G for gravel plains, R for riverbed and D for dunes. Included in the riverbed habitat are also various washes that are connected to the Kuiseb. One must remember that there are always exceptions and that plants can occasionally occur in other habitats than the ones marked in this guide. The source for the habitats are adapted from the “Checklist of the flora and vertebrates of Gobabeb” (Henschel et al. 2006), but


whenever a plant was found not included in this list or a plant was found in another habitat than what the information is in the list, the new habitat was added.

Endemism Endemics are species that only occur within a certain area, biome, habitat, region or country (Curtis and Mannheimer, 2005). The Namibia Nature Foundation published a poster on “Endemics of Namibia” (Shaw, 2002) that showed that Namibia currently has 687 endemic plant species, which is as much as 17% of all plant species in the country. Added to these are 275 species that are near endemic, i.e. species that extends into neighboring countries as well. As Gobabeb is in a hyper-arid area (Henschel et al., 2006) and most endemic species in Namibia are arid-adapted (Shaw, 2002), it makes the plants in the surrounding areas of Gobabeb fairly high in endemism. The endemic species that can be encountered in the vicinity of Gobabeb are marked as such in this guide.

Protection A number of plants that are protected under national or international law and are high risk red-data categorized or CITES-listed (Curtis and Mannheimer, 2005) can be found around Gobabeb. The “red data list” list all protected species in a country, and CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and it is an international agreement between governments. There are two categories: Cites 1 for highly endangered species and Cites 2 for vulnerable species (Burke, 2003b). Whenever the source of their protection has been found during the literature studies for this guide, this is included (e.g. protected by the national Department of Forestry or by the Nature Conservation Ordinance). Inevitably, there are a few species for which the source for their protection could not be found, and these plants are only marked as protected.

Alien species The term “alien” is used to refer to plants that are not indigenous or native to an area, e.g. this country. The plants may have been introduced to Namibia from overseas, tropical Africa or neighboring countries. These problematic species are preferably monitored and controlled, since they out-compete indigenous species, consume large quantities of water (Curtis and Mannheimer, 2005), and inter-breed with closely related indigenous species, leading to loss of the natural diversity and genetic integrity (Steenkamp and Smit, 2002). Namibia National Biodiversity Programme published a poster 2002 called “Namibia’s Nasty Nine – alien invasive species” (Steenkamp and Smit, 2002), of which four of the nine can be found in the vicinity of Gobabeb (Henschel et al, 2006). These are Prosopis glandulosa, Nicotiana glauca, Datura innoxia and Argemone ochroleuca, Additionally, there are two other declared aliens found in this area, Ricinus communis and Datura stramonium, and they are all marked out as aliens on their information sheet in this guide. Furthermore, two other plants not native to Namibia were encountered in the making of this guide, Alternanthera pungens and Solanum nigrum, and these could possibly be stated as alien plants as well.

Acknowledgements Many thanks to Jaimie Adelson for being the one who introduced me to this project and for being a great support by helping me out whenever I needed it, James Anderson for coming with helpful comments and suggestions to the manuscript, Joh Henschel who contributed with beautiful photos of several plant species, Keith Leggett who basically is the one who got me to Gobabeb by sparkling my initial interest for the Namib and, a few years later, introducing me to Gobabeb, Annethea Muller for bringing me out on her quade-bike and showing me where to find diverse areas, helping me by reviewing and commenting the manuscript and not to mention, providing me a brake from the books with some calming seed sorting, Johan Olofsson for his compliance when I changed direction for my project, Silke Rügheimer at the National Botanical Research Institute in Windhoek who helped with identification despite the difficulty to do so simply from small photographs, and Veronica (Roxy) Siteketa for sharing her knowledge about the plants around Gobabeb.


Grasses and sedges


Poaceae The grass family

Brachiara glomerata

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: G, D & R Common names: English: Annual sweet-grass, sand brachiaria German: Knäuel-Armgras

Afrikaans:

Eenjarige soetgras

Distribution: Distributed all over southern Africa. Identification: Brachiara glomerata is a soft, tufted annual with erect or knee-bent culms that branches at the nodes and can get up to 0.6 m high. The hairy leaf-blades are grey-green and flat, with round and hairy leaf sheaths. The ligule has a fringe of short hairs, and the inflorescence consists of a panicle with few, small, spike like racemers that are arranged in irregular intervals on the central axis. The spikelets are densely hairy and can get up to 3 mm long. Ecology: This is a palatable, annual grass that is generally found in sandy soil; on dunes, in sandy patches on granite outcrops or in dry watercourses. It is a palatable grass and heavily grazed by game such as oryx and springbok, but due to its small abundance it is of little agricultural value. Flowering time is from December to June. Uses: -

References: Müller M A N (1984), Gibbs Russell G E (1991), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Poaceae The grass family

Centropodia glauca

Photos from dunes close to Gobabeb Found in: D Common names: English: Gha grass, Dunegrass German: Dünenhafer

Afrikaans:

Ghagras

Distribution: This grass is found in the northern Cape, the southwest of Botswana and the southern, western and central parts of Namibia, including the arid west coast, the southern Kalahari to the east and savanna areas in the south. Identification: Centropodia glauca is a tufted perennial up to 1 m in diameter, and the culm being 60 cm high. The grass has a short rhizome, which is covered with papery scale leaves, and the blue-green leaf-blade is expanded and usually hairless. The leaf blades at the base are reduced while those at the top may be up to 7 cm long and 7 mm wide. The sheaths are slightly open and rounded, and the ligule has a fringe of hairs. The light green or straw-colored inflorescence consists of a compact panicle with a size of 12 cm long and 3 cm wide, and the spikelets are 8-11 mm long with 5-8 mm long awns. Ecology: This palatable grass species is a climax grass below the 250 mm isohyet. It is heavily grazed by game, particularly gemsbok. It grows mainly in deep sandy soil, but is also found in gravelly soil. Its common occurrence in veld is used as an indicator of veld in a good condition. Uses: -

References: Müller M A N (1984), van Oudtshoorn F (1999), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Poaceae The grass family

Chloris virgata

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Feather-top chloris German: Einjähriges Quirlgras, Vley-Quirlgras

Afrikaans:

Klossiegras

Distribution: This grass is found throughout southern Africa as well as tropical and temperate regions worldwide. Identification: This is a tender, open tufted annual (occasional perennial). The erect or knee-bent culms are up to 70 cm high and with roots that often develops from the lower nodes. The green to blue-green leaf blades are up to 12 cm long and 7 mm wide, with or without hairs. The ligule is a short, membranous ring and the sheaths can be found with or without hairs, kneeled and flattened. Initially the inflorescence is surrounded by a spathe, and then the peduncle lengthens gradually to expose 6-15 slender spikes, which are attached in a whorl at the terminal point of the culm. The hairy spikelets are attached evenly in two rows to one side of the secondary axes, each with 2-3 awns. Ecology: Chloris virgata grows mostly in disturbed places, especially where water collects after rain. It prefers clay soils, but can grow in all kinds of soil, and is a valuable grazing grass in the more arid parts where few other palatable perennial grasses occur. However, around Gobabeb this grass is considered an annual. Overgrazing of this grass can lead to serious veld degradation. It is a common weed in cultivated lands and gardens, but is controlled mechanically or chemically with relative ease. Uses: Because of its valuable pioneer properties, this grass can be used to resow bare patches.

References: Müller M A N (1984), Van Oudtshoorn F (1999), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Poaceae The grass family

Cladocarphis spinosa

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: D & R Common names: English: Spiny cladocarphis, thorny grass, ostrich grass, spiny love grass German: Dorngras

Afrikaans:

Dorngras, volstruisgras

Distribution: In the dry west, all the way through the Namib Desert from the Northern Cape to Angola. Identification: This grass’s tufts are very hard and spiny, with a rhizomatous rootstock. It has a shrub-like growth and forms many branches with thorns that shape the inflorescence with a very characteristic panicle. The leaves are often absent, but sometimes only extremely short and the leaf sheaths are usually separated from the culms. Ecology: Cladocarphis spinosa is a perennial grass that acts as a good sand binder in its preferred habitats: dunes and riverbeds. Livestock do not generally eat it, although early settlers’ observations of ostriches eating it resulted in one of its common names. It may, however, be grazed by donkeys, and its seeds are popular for birds. It flowers from August to May. Uses: Dry pieces of grass have been known to be used to kindle fires.

References: Van Oudtshoorn F (1999), Craven P and Marais C (2000), Burke A (2003a), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Cyperaceae The sedges family

Cyperus marginatus

Photo from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Desert sedge Nama/Damara: |harub

Afrikaans:

Wüstensegge

Distribution: This sedge is widely distributed throughout the drier parts of the southern Africa. Identification: The perennial sedge Cyperus marginatus has a woody rhizome and cylindrical leafless stems of 30-90 cm. Its small inconspicuous flowers are arranged in groups of finger-shaped inflorescences along the upper third of the stem. Ecology: As Cyperus marginatus is a sedge it needs moist places to grow on, thus it is restricted to areas with surface or subsurface water, such as near springs and seepage areas in riverbeds. Uses: The Topnaar used the stalks to thatch roofs in the past. They also plaited mats with the Cyperus stalks.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Burke A (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photo by: Sabine Pröls and Maja Sjöskog


Poaceae The grass family

Eragrostis annulata

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: D & R Common names: English: Ringed lovegrass German: Ring-Windhalm

Afrikaans:

Ringwindhalmgras, blougras

Distribution: Southern Africa and south tropical Africa. Identification: The Eragrostis annulata is an tufted annual with erect or knee-bent culms up to 15-40 cm high that usually are branched. The soft leaf blades are expanded, 5-10 cm long and up to 3 mm wide, and covered with long hairs. The ligule has a fringe of short hairs with a few longer hairs at the collar. The sheaths are rounded and covered with long hairs mixed together with short hairs. Its inflorescence is an open, repeatedly branched panicle with a length up to 11 cm. The purple spikelets are up to 11 cm long and can consist of up to 22 flowers, with the slender pedicels possessing a characteristic glandular ring. The grass can also be identified by its unpleasant smell. Ecology: This annual grass occurs in various habitats, on all soil types and is fairly abundant in some areas. The plants form a relatively small percentage (by mass) of the species composition of the veld, and thus they are of little significance as fodder for game and livestock. Uses: It is reported that the seeds are edible.

References: MĂźller M A N (1984), van Rooyen N (2001), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al. (2006) Photos by: Maja SjĂśskog


Poaceae The grass family

Eragrostis cylindriflora

Photos from gravel plains close to Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Smooth lovegrass German: Kahler Windhalm

Afrikaans: Oshiwambo:

Naakte windhalmgras Ombidangolo

Distribution: All over southern Africa. Identification: Eragrostis cylindriflora is an open-tufted species with erect or knee-bent culms, reaching 20-80 cm high, which has conspicuous brown nodes. Its leaf blades are soft, expanded or rolled, usually without hairs. The leaf sheath can be with or without hairs, with the exception of a few long, stiff hairs on the collar. The inflorescence is an open panicle that can reach 20 cm, and with secondary axes arranged in whorls on the central axis. The base of the secondary axis can be with or without hairs. Its spikelets are 4-6 mm long, with 4-6 grey-green flowers. Ecology: This grass species occurs in various habitats, but mainly on disturbed ground. It is eaten by cattle and goats. Flowering time is from January to August. Uses: Seeds are known to be eaten.

References: MĂźller M A N (1984) , Gibbs Russell G E (1991) and Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) Photos by: Maja SjĂśskog


Poaceae The grass family

Setaria verticillata

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Bur bristle grass German: Klettgras

Afrikaans: Otjiherero:

Klitsgras, klitssetaria Eomba

Distribution: Setaria verticillata is distributed throughout nearly all tropical and warm parts of Old World, and it has also been introduced to South America and North America. Identification: This soft annual tufted grass has a light green inflorescence and a spike-like panicle with a pointed tip and a lax central axis. The erect culms can get up to 1.2 m high but are usually lower in the central Namib. One way to easily distinguish this grass from similar species is by it numerous sticky barbs on the bristles of the inflorescence that easily cling to clothes and animals’ skin because of the fine toothlike projections. The inflorescence is furthermore dense, and its leaf blade is open, soft and covered with very small velvety hairs, gradually narrowing into a fine point. When the leaves dry, they remain open, and the color turns into light brown. The leaf sheaths are compressed. Ecology: Setaria verticillata typically grows under trees for shade, and in disturbed (due to overgrazing, trampling or drought) and damp soil. It is a nitrogen-loving pioneer that is a palatable grass for game and livestock, even when it is dry, but since it is annual it delivers a limited production. It can cause considerable trouble to farmers as it clings to the coats of animals and damages the wool. It flowers from December to May. Uses: Because the grass retains its nutritional value when it dries out, it is sometimes used to make hay. The seeds are also eaten, and the culm is burnt and the ash is mixed with ground tobacco to make snuff. The Topnaar ground and boil the seeds in water, milk or fat to form porridge.

References: Müller M A N (1984), Gibbs Russell G E et al (1991), van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Van Oudtshoorn F (1999), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006). Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Poaceae The grass family

Stipagrostis ciliata

Photos from around Gobabeb Found in: D, G & R Common names: English: Tall bushman grass German: Bewimpertes federgras

Afrikaans:

Langbeenboesmangras

Distribution: Southern Africa and northern Africa (Egypt and Tunisia). Identification: This grass is a densely tufted perennial or annual with unbranched erect (sometimes knee-bent) culms that can reach up to 1 m in height. It can be recognized by its typical stiff white hairs on the nodes or the spikelets which have a characteristically dark purple basal region, with a tripartite awn, the central portion of which is hairy and may be up to 6 mm long. The leaf blades are usually rolled and hairless, and end in a narrow point. The ligule has a fringe of short hairs, and the sheath may be short or long, somewhat woolly or densely covered with wavy hairs at the margins. The inflorescence is an open panicle, which can be up to 30 cm long and has well-developed lateral branches. Ecology: The Stipagrostis ciliata is a valuable and palatable climax grass widespread in various habitats, although mostly in arid areas on coarse sandy soils, such as gravel plains, riverbeds and interdune areas where it acts as a sand-binder. It is an extremely drought-resistant grass, which has a high nutritional value even in dry state, and it is associated with veld in good condition. Depending on the habitat and the amount of rainfall received in a season this grass can grow as a perennial or an annual, hence the S.ciliata found around Gobabeb on the plains and dunes are mostly annuals while robust perennials may exceptionally be found in the Kuiseb riverbed. Uses: Due to its availability, it is one of the most important grazing resources in the Namib Desert.

References: MĂźller M A N (1984), Van Oudtshoorn F (1999), van Rooyen N (2001), Burke A (2003a), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja SjĂśskog


Poaceae The grass family

Stipagrostis gonatostachys

Photos from gravel plains close to Gobabeb Found in: G & D Common names: English: Rough-leaved bushmangrass German: Geknietes federgras

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Endemic to the Namib Desert. Identification: This relatively small grass is the one that is found widely distributed on interdune areas and plains around Gobabeb after good rainfall. It can get up 200 mm tall, the culms not conspicuously striate and the mainly basal leaf blades are folded and about 40-50 mm long. The spikelets are 8-100 mm long (excluding awns) and the narrow inflorescence is elongated with the base usually enclosed in the upper leaf sheath. The glumes are sometimes densely covered with long hairs and the lemma is smooth. This grass can easily be confused with Stipagrostis obtusa (Small bushman grass). Ecology: Stipagrostis gonatostachys is the grass that covers the interdune areas to a great extent after summer rains that exceeds 15-20 mm. It also grows on sand dunes and sandy hillsides, or on coarse sand between rocks on mountain slopes and on gravel plains. Depending on the rainfall, this grass species can complete its life cycle in three to five weeks, or it can be extended to several months. It flowers from September to December and from March to June. Uses: -

References: Robinson M D and Seely M K (1980), Gibbs Russell G E et al (1991), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Poaceae The grass family

Stipagrostis lutescens

Photos taken at Station Dune Found in: G, D & R Common names: English: None found German: Gelbspelziges federgras

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Endemic to the south west of southern Africa. Identification: The perennial Stipagrostis lutescens forms a shrub or half-shrub grass with a height of about 0.7 to 1 m and long branched rhizomes. It is robust in its upper parts, and it has glabrous nodes. The flat or folded leaf blades are 10 cm long and 2 mm wide, spikelets 12-14 mm long (excluding awns). Leaves grow mainly on the upper parts of the stem while the lower parts are much branched and fascicled. Furthermore, the relatively short leaves are usually held at a 90-degree angle from the culm. The inflorescence is open and its hairless glumes 8-14 mm long. The column is well developed, with or without hairs, and all three awns or only the central awn may have feathers. The callus is about 2-2.5 mm long with a narrow and sharp naked tip. Ecology: The habitat of S.lutescens is usually on hillsides in sandy soils. It flowers in March, and July to October. Uses: -

References: Gibbs Russell G E et al (1991), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Poaceae The grass family

Stipagrostis obtusa

Photos from dunes close to Gobabeb Found in: G & D Common names: English: Small bushman grass German: Gestutztes federgras

Afrikaans:

Kortbeenboesmangras

Distribution: The grass occurs in the west and central parts of southern Africa, as well as North Africa, Iraq and Pakistan. Identification: Stipagrostis obtusa is compact and densely tufted, with a length of 600 mm and usually with erect culms that have dark colored nodes. The short and curled leaf blades are up to 1 mm wide and 10-250 mm long, and are noticeably concentrated near the base. Its spikelets are 11-12 mm long (excluding awns) and the basal sheaths may be with or without hair. The inflorescence is usually contracted, interrupted and much branched with the branches bearing spikelets near to the base. The pale glumes are firm and hairless. Note that this grass easily can be confused with Stipagrostis gonatostachys (Rough-leaved bushmangrass). Ecology: Flowering time for S.obtusa is from July to May, and it grows mainly in loose sandy soils in dry areas, often also in shallow sandy soil with underlying gravel. Uses: This grass is very palatable and is one of the best grazing grasses in the arid regions of southern Africa.

References: Gibbs Russell G E et al (1991), Van Oudtshoorn F (1999), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Poaceae The grass family

Stipagrostis sabulicola

Photos from Station Dune and High Dune Found in: D & R Common names: English: Dune bushman grass German: Sandliebendes federgras

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Endemic to the dune fields of the Namib. Identification: This spiky perennial grass is found as hummocks in the lower portion of the dune slopes in the vicinity of Gobabeb. The grass is composed of reed-like shrubs or dwarf shrubs that can reach a height of 2 m, with rhizomes robust and highly branched or tufted. The spikelets are 8-14 mm long (excluding awns) and the culms are branched from the nodes. The folded leaf blades can get up to 25-60 cm long, and they are erect and straight, overtopping the inflorescence, which is elongated, narrow and spike-like, usually partly enclosed in the uppermost leaf sheath. Glumes are straw-colored and turn brown with age. Ecology: Stipagrostis sabulicola is one of the few plants permanently present in the Namib sand sea. It is usually found in the lower dune slopes, but also occasionally on dune tops or in riverbeds. Various insects are associated with this grass, such as gall-forming moths, dune ants and wasps. The grass flowers from December to January. Uses: The dry blades of S.sabulicola are used to kindle fires, as well as for thatching material or for plaiting into mats.

References: Gibbs Russell G E et al (1991), Burke A (2003a), Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjรถskog


Poaceae The grass family

Triraphis purpurea

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Red honey grass

Afrikaans:

Gemsbokgras

Distribution: Arid regions in the Northern Cape, Botswana and Namibia. Identification: This is a tufted and very hairy grass with a rust-brown color, and that can reach a height of 80 cm. Its leaf blades are flat or rolled with the ligule a fringe of hairs. The inflorescence is open, hairy and the color for the panicle is purplish-brown. Ecology: The annual Triraphis purpurea is found in moist places, often in the shade in red sand or rocky calcareous soils. Flowering time is from mid-summer into autumn. Uses: -

References: van Oudtshoorn F (1999), van Rooyen N (2001) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Leaf succulents


Aloaceae The aloe family

Aloe asperifolia

Photos from Gobabeb Found in: G Common names: English: Kraal aloe German: Rauhblättrige Aloe

Afrikaans: Nama/Damara:

Kraalaalwyn, heksekringe Aukoreb

Distribution: Although this leaf succulent is abundant where it occurs, it has a limited distribution and is restricted to the central and northern Namib, from Walvis Bay to the southern Kaokoveld. Identification: Aloe asperifolia is usually stemless, but sometimes it is found with short creeping stems with a height of 45 cm. The leaves are characteristically fleshy and contain a clear sap, and their surfaces are rough, hence the botanical name ‘asper’ meaning “like sandpaper”. The margins of the leaves are armed with brown, triangular thorns, about 2-3 mm in length. One can usually find the leaves covered with a whitish to blue-grey substance called bloom, which can be rubbed off. The downwards hanging, 28 mm long flowers are dull pink to pink-red. Ecology: This succulent plant grows in intensely arid areas, most often found together in groups on flat sandy or stony calcareous ground, but also solitary on low koppies. Depending on the local rainfall, the flowers appear between March and April. The pollinator of this plant is unknown, but because of the downward situated flowers, this has lead to the speculation that the pollinator may be a small desertdwelling mammal. It is protected in Namibia by the Nature Conservation Ordinance, and it is also listed under Cites 2. Uses: The Topnaar have been known to use a decoction of the leaves to treat kidney problems, asthma, epilepsy and colds. This decoction is also ingested to expel the placenta both for humans and livestock, and is given to donkeys when they have eaten poisonous plants.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Burke A (2005) and Henschel J et al. (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Aizoaceae (Mesembryanthmeaceae) The vygie (mesemb) family

Mesembryanthemum guerichianum

Photos from Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Ice plant

Afrikaans:

Brakslaai, volstruisslaai

Distribution: Mesembryanthemum guerichianum occurs throughout the Namib, and is thereby one of the most widespread Mesembryanthemum species in Namibia. Also it extends down to the Cape Provinces of South Africa. Identification: This fleshy annual with a lettuce-like appearance has large simple entire leaves that are densely covered with crystal clear, glittering papillae, and the leaf margins are wavy. The papillae cause the surface of the leaves to look as if they are covered in beaded water droplets or blisters. The 2.5 to 4 cm flowers vary in color from pink to white to purplish, and they are only open midday to late afternoon. The fruits consist of reddish capsules, a few cm in diameter, which gradually disintegrate and releases the seeds. Ecology: This plant is usually found in riverbeds and disturbed areas where moisture has collected and where the soils are brackish. As one moves further south they become more succulent. The flowers are probably pollinated by bees, and they open in the morning and close at night. Uses: An infusion of the leaves was formerly used for tanning hides.

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjรถskog


Aizoaceae The vygie family

Sesuvium sesuvoides

Photos taken at Hope Mine and N Gungochoab Found in: G & R Common names: English: Desert pink

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: This plant is widespread in southern Africa, but in Namibia it is largely restricted to the central and northern Namib. Identification: Sesuvium sesuvoides has small, fleshy grey-green leaves that are usually rolled or folded. The plant spreads out flat on the ground, hardly exceeding 20 cm in height. First shoots are red to pink, and as the plant gets older it goes from reddish to yellow, and to grayish-green when mature. The dark pink to purple flowers are hard to miss when in bloom since they form a striking contrast against the white pollen sacs. The shiny seeds are small and numerous. Ecology: This little succulent herb grows on plains, in drainage lines and in depressions. It is said to be eaten by both livestock and game. There are four species of Sesuvium in Namibia, and they are relatively difficult to tell apart. Uses: In northern Namibia this species is mixed into traditional spinach dishes.

References: Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjรถskog


Aizoaceae The vygie family

Trianthema hereoensis

Photos taken at Kahani Dune and Naravalley Found in: D Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Endemic to the western half of the Namib sand sea. Identification: This leaf succulent is a dwarf shrub with erect stalks. It has small (about 6 mm long), oval and pointed leaf blades, with short leaf stalks that have wide membranous wings, and are situated densely arranged around the stalks. It flowers year through, the only plant found on dunes doing so, with small white to pink flowers. Ecology: Trianthema hereoensis occurs, sometimes as the only plant in its habitat together with Stipagrostis sabulicola, on the lower dune slopes and sand covered areas in the interdune valleys. Very few higher plants in the world are known to be able to take up water directly through their leaves, but T.hereoensis is one of them, since it takes up water from fog through stomata (breathing pores) as the fog drifts past. Because of this trait, the plant can flower year through despite the lack of rainfall, and is therefore an important food source and protection for many living creatures in the desert. Uses: -

References: Seely M et al (1977), Kutschera L et al. (1997), Burke A (2003a), Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al. (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjรถskog


Zygophyllaceae The devil’s thorn family

Zygophyllum clavatum

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G & D Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: West coast of Namibia and South Africa. Identification: Zygophyllum clavatum is a low-growing, sometimes hummock-forming, densely branched succulent shrublet that can reach a height of 0.5 m. It has small fleshy leaves that are cup-shaped or flatly ovate. The white flowers grows axillary and can be solitary or up to three on the same branch. Its tiny fruits are 5-lobed, wider than they are long, and fleshy when they are young. Ecology: This plant is common in the fog zone along the coast but also on gravel plains further inland, as well as in areas of mobile sand where it forms stabilizing hummocks. The flowering time for this succulent is distributed sporadically all year round. Insects such as ants, hoverflies and bees visit the flowers, and it is browsed by oryx and springbok. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Burke A (2003a), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja SjĂśskog


Zygophyllaceae The devil’s thorn family

Zygophyllum simplex

Photos from Gobabeb Found in: G, D & R Common names: English: Simple zygophyllum Afrikaans: Brakkies, brakspekbos, rankspek, volstruiskos German: Polsterpflanze, Einfaches Jochblatt, Einjähriges Jochblatt Distribution: Throughout the Namib Desert from Namaqualand right into Angola. Also in the Middle East. North Africa and other arid regions of southern Africa. Identification: Zygophyllum simplex is the plant that forms the bright yellowy-green patches all around Gobabeb, as it is one of the most widely distributed herbs in the Namib. It has round, succulent leaves on branches that spread out in all directions from the root, and small yellow flowers that develop into small fruits. Even though they are short-lived annuals they can, in favorable conditions, reach a diameter of a meter or more. Old dry plants are grey and fragile. In Namibia Z.simplex is noticeably more yellow on a very saltine substrate. Ecology: Namibia has about 30 Zygophyllum species, but Z.simplex is the only herb amongst these shrubs. This annual plant occurs on plains, rocky slopes and in drainage lines, often colonizing disturbed areas. Its succulent leaves offer a good moisture and food source for many animals, especially the black rhinoceros where their ranges overlap. The fruits can be spread by the wind as well as by birds, which explains its wide distribution. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Burke A (2003a), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Zygophyllaceae The devil’s thorn family

Zygophyllum stapffii

Photos from Hope Mine, Langer Heinrich Uranium and Ear Rock Found in: G Common names: English: Dollar bush German: Talerpflanze

Afrikaans:

Daalderplant

Distribution: Endemic to the Namib Desert, from the northern boundary of the Namib Desert Park to the southwestern Kaokoveld. Identification: This is a semi-deciduous shrub that can reach 1 m. Its common name is derived from the round, succulent leaves that resemble coins, which often are the only things visible in sandy areas where the rest of the shrub is buried below the sand mound. At times the plant can be almost leafless, and the degree of water availability can be seen on the leaves, which in water rich areas are thick and juicy. It has white flowers that grow into succulent fruits with 5 wings and a size of about 1.5 cm in diameter. Small brown seeds are attached to the wings. Ecology: This plant is especially common near Swakopmund where it can even be found on the beach leading to the formation of sand mounds. Often it is one of the few plants that can be found in certain areas in the coastal Namib, together with Arthraerua leubnitziae. The latter is even better adapted to arid periods since it can collect water from dewfall while Zygophyllum stapffii require ground water. One example of an adaptation for the harsh environment that the Z.stapffi possesses is the leaves, which protect themselves from excessive loss of moisture by turning the leaf margin towards the sun during the heat of the day. This plant can furthermore survive on some of the most saline sites known to support vegetation. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja SjĂśskog


Mesembryanthemaceae The vygie/iceplant family

Brownanthus kuntzei

Photos from Gobabeb and N Aussinanis wash Found in: G, D & R Common names: English: Kuntze’s Brownanthus Nama/Damara: ≠naugub

Afrikaans:

Wonderplant

Distribution: Brownanthus kuntzei is a plant of the Namib coastal, fog-influenced region and occurs from the central Namib just south of Walvis Bay to southern Angola. Identification: Cylindrical, fleshy stems characterize this upright, succulent shrub. The succulent stems are light green to grey and bear scale-like, hardly visible leaves. Small flowers, about 1cm in diameter, with numerous white filiform petals and white stamens, develop on the tips of the branches. Ecology: This succulent shrub grows almost exclusively in sandy habitats. Namibia has a number of other Browanthus species, but these occur south of the Kuiseb river and thus not in the central Namib. Uses: Inhalation of the vapor of a decoction is used to cure colds, fever and flu and to relieve nausea, since it induces vomiting. A decoction of the stems is drunk to relieve stomach pains, to solve constipation and to whet the appetite. The same decoction is given to the animals if their stomach’ are inflated or if they are infected with tapeworm.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjöskog


Stem succulents


Euphorbiaceae The spurge family

Euphorbia pylloclada

Photos from Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: None found German: Bunte Wolfsmilch

Afrikaans:

Bontmelkbos

Distribution: Western Namibia, especially in the Namib, but also in Namaqualand and tropical Africa. Identification: The Euphorbia genus is enormous and includes a great variety of life forms. They all have an unusual floral structure, and the Euphorbia phylloclada is distinguished from other species by its spreading growth habit and the variegated leaves from where the common name “bontmelkbos” is derived, “bont” in Afrikaans meaning variegated. The greenish fleshy leaves are opposite and often packed on the flowering parts on the branch tips, and have a large whitish or rose colored area at the base of the leaf and usually on one side of the midrib. The margins are white or reddish. Ecology: E.phylloclada is a short-lived spreading plant, which always carries leaves, although it can occur both as annual and perennial. The plant is protected from the drying effect of the wind by stems close to the ground, and the coloration allows some of the sun’s rays to be absorbed without doing any harm. It is known to flower in the Namib after sufficient dew, and it is dependant on night dew during dry periods. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Apocynaceae The oleander family Subfamily Asclepiadaceae

Hoodia currori

Photos from Gobabeb and Gamsberg Found in: G Common names: All: Ghaap Afrikaans: (hoodia)

English: Nama/Damara

(hoodia) !khobab, !khowab

Distribution: In the Namib it is found in the extreme west on rocky koppies and slopes and south to the Goanikontes areas. Identification: Hoodia curroi has fleshy finger-like stems which branch near to the ground and usually develop rows of small thorns along the stem. Characteristic large papery flowers with color variations of flesh to salmon resemble small radar antennas. The flowers vary in size and attract flies and bowflies because of their strong smell of decaying meat. The fruits (follicles) are often paired and each about 12 cm in length, and the winged seeds are crowned with a tuft of silky hairs. Without flowers the Hoodia curroi is difficult to distinguish from other “ghaaps� (Hoodias and spiny Trichocaulons). Hybrids also exist. Ecology: This leafless succulent grows hair around the corolla tube, probably to protect the tube from sand. The flies and bowflies, which are attracted to the flowers, lay their eggs inside the flower and in doing so pollinate it. H.curroi is protected in Namibia. Uses: The stem of H.curroi is edible and very refreshing. It lowers high blood pressure, cures colds and relieves stomach pains and digestion problems. It is also used as an appetite-suppressant and to treat hypertension and diabetes. The flesh is applied to the eyes to relieve eye pains. Pieces of the stem added to sugar water create a refreshing drink.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000) and Henschel J et al (2006). Photos: Dr Joh Henschel


Moringaceae The moringa family

Moringa ovalifolia

Photos from Gobabeb and Mirabib Found in: G Common names: English: African moringa, ghost tree, phantom tree Afrikaans: Meelsakboom, sprokiesboom, speksbooms

German: Herero:

Moringa Omutindi

Distribution: The Moringa ovalifolia is near-endemic to Namibia, as it also extends into southern Angola. It is most common in the drier western parts of the country, but occurs also to a lesser extent elsewhere. Identification: The weird shaped tree M.ovalifolia grows up to 6-7 m in height and can have several trunks emerging from a swollen base. The light grey bark is smooth and its light green leaves are large and compound, reaching 60 cm in length and 40 cm in width. The leaves also carry 2 to 7 pairs of pinnae with an average of 5. The leaflets are oval shaped and the white flowers are sweet-scented and small. The podlike flattish fruits of these trees are pendulous and 3-sided with a narrow capsule up to 30 cm long. When ripe the fruits split along the sides and release light brown 3-winged seeds. Ecology: These trees were introduced to South Africa from India at some early date where they escaped and were naturalized in the northern Transvaal and parts of Natal, and from there traveled to Namibia. The fruits and leaves are tasty for various game species like elephants, giraffes and springboks. The light wood disintegrates easily since it is spongy and pulpy fibered. M.ovalifolia flowers from December to May. It is a protected species in Namibia. Uses: The roots are reported to be tasty, and also the fruits and leaves are edible.

References: Craven P and Marais C (1992), Berry C (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjรถskog


Geraniaceae The geranium family

Sarcocaulon marlothii

Photos taken at Barrowberg Found in: G Common names: English: Bushman’s candle German: Buschmannskerze

Afrikaans:

Boesmankers

Distribution: From the Ujab River in the north to Duwsib, south-west of MaltahĂśhe. Identification: This erect shrub can reach 1.4 m and is sometimes equally wide. Its branches are thick with short fleshy shoots, recurved spines and stipules. The stem and branches are covered with a fairly hard, translucent bark that is covered in wax. Its leaves are kidney-shaped and the dark pink to purple flowers have 5 petals. The fruit is long and bursts open by separating into 3 or 4 distinct parts that are joined from the base. Thereafter each part with its long, soft hairs coils up away from the base in preparation for dispersion by the wind. Ecology: Sarcocaulon marlothii is found on rocky open places, usually limestone or allied substances. An interesting feature of this plant is that the bark is inflammable due to the impregnation of wax. The wax is also thought to prevent water loss, together with the leaves that folds together in hot and dry conditions for protecting the hairless upper surface. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Geraniaceae The geranium family

Sarcocaulon salmoniflorum

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G Common names: English: Bushman’s candle

Afrikaans:

T´noena-doring, kleinkersbossie

Distribution: The distribution for this plant is the western and northwestern part of southern Africa. Identification: Sarcocaulon salmoniflorum is a small stem succulent that grows as an erect to spreading shrub, which can get up to 40 cm high. The stems have straight or curved spines attached, and the leaves are elliptic, entire and hairless. The flowers are orange to salmon, about 1.2 cm in diameter, and are borne solitary on a flower stalk. Ecology: This shrublet is the most common Sarcocaulon species in southern Africa, and it occurs in calcareous sandy soils or on more rocky surfaces. Minimum temperature appears to be a limiting factor in its occurrence. The flowering time is from spring into summer and autumn. Uses: An infusion of this species is used to treat colds and stomach ailments.

References: le Roux A and Schelpe T (1997), van Rooyen N (2001), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Bulbs


Colchicaceae The flame lily family

Hexacyrtis dickiana

Photos from Station Dune Found in: G & D Common names: English: Namib lily

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Near-endemic to the Namib; from Swakopmund southwards, into the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Identification: This is a large geophyte that can get up to 0.6 m high, with an erect stem that is leafy and branched above, with long basal sheaths of old leaf bases. The bases of the leaves embrace the stem, and then gradually narrow to a drawn-out, fine point. Leaves grow mostly in a single plane and folded. The complex red-brown flowers are pendulous and are situated at each branch tip I groups of 2-6. The tepals are curved, broader at base and grow on a stalk that can be up to 10 cm long. The seeds are redbrown and shiny. Ecology: Hexacyrtis dickiana appears in the dunes, usually in small groups, and sometimes also in sandier parts of the gravel plains after good rains (flowering is rain-dependent). Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003a), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Hyacinthaceae The hyacinth family

Ornithogalum candidum

Photos from gravel plains close to Gobabeb and Hope Mine Found in: G Common names: English: Namib milk-star

Afrikaans:

Namib Milchstern

Distribution: Ornithogalum candidum is endemic to the Namib Desert. Identification: This lily is characterized by its large, white flowers and a rather robust appearance. The blue-green leaves are broad and the plant may grow up to 20 cm high. Ecology: O.candidum grows on gravel plains and is occasionally also found on rocky slopes. It is a red-listed species. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Annethea Muller


Herbs


Amaranthaceae The amaranth family

Alternanthera pungens

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Khaki weed

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: This plant is probably a native of tropical America, and now widespread in the tropics and subtropics worldwide. Identification: Alternanthera pungens forms prostrate mats up to 1 m in the fringes along the Kuiseb. It has stout vertical roots that provide it with sufficient water. The many branches originate from the base outwards, and the small leaves vary from being broadly ovate to narrowly oblong. The plant can be recognized by its spiny, white, rounded flowers. Ecology: As this plant is a weed that originates from Central and South America, it can probably be stated as an alien plant. It has a wide range of habitats and occurs mostly in compact sandy soil along roadsides, on waste grounds, on overgrazed areas and along watercourses. Uses: -

References: Aluka (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Papaveraceae The poppy or dissel family

Argemone ochroleuca

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: (White-flowered) Mexican poppy

Afrikaans:

Bloudissel, meksikaanse papawer, steekbossie, blouduiwel

Distribution: Identification: This is an erect weed that can reach up to 1 m in height and is often mistaken for being a thistle because of its spiny leaves. The bluish spiny leaves are deeply lobed and thick-textured and the white to yellowish flowers are furnished with spiny bracts. The leaves have a distinct smell when crushed. The capsule is armed with many stout spines and contains many black round seeds. Ecology: Alien species. Argemone ochroleuca originates from Mexico and was cultivated as an ornament, but occurs now widespread in disturbed areas and dry riverbeds all over Namibia. It exudes yellow latex when cut that is irritating for the skin. It is noxious, highly unpalatable and toxic to humans and livestock. The many round seeds of the capsules are easily washed into the sandveld in riverbeds and the seeds can also lie dormant for up to 20 years waiting for rain, making control difficult. Despite its weedy nature it is, as many other weeds, a pioneer plant that prevents erosion as it is usually, together with other pioneers, the first plant to establish on bare ground. Flowering time may be all year, with a peak in spring into summer and autumn. Uses: -

References: Bromilow C (1995), van der Walt P and le Riche E (1999), van Rooyen N (2001), Steenkamp C and Smit P (2002) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Acanthaceae The acanthus family

Blepharis grossa

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G Common names: English: Little desert-thistle

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: This species occurs throughout the drier parts of southern Africa, but in Namibia it is restricted to the Namib and its margins. Identification: This is a spiny herb that can vary tremendously in height, from a few cm to 30 cm in moister locations. It has an upright growth structure and is easily identified by its characteristic branching pattern, always in divisions of two, while the blue flowers and their supporting leaves are arranged in four tightly-packed columns. Ecology: Blepharis grossa is an adaptable pioneer that often grows in disturbed areas and is common on plains. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Cucurbitaceae The pumpkin family

Citrillus lanatus

Photo from Sossusvlei Found in: G, R & D Common names: English: Wild watermelon, tsamma melon

Afrikaans:

Wilde waatlemoen, tsamma, karkoer

Distribution: Citrillus lanatus occurs throughout the entire southern Africa. Identification: This climbing plant can, despite its creeping behavior, reach a height of 0.3 to 2 m. It has hairy stems, forked tendrils and 3 to 5 lobed, hairy leaves. The flowers are bright yellow and the male and female flowers are borne on the same plant. The pale green to green fruit is round, about 150-200 mm in diameter, and smooth. It has irregular mottled bands of dark green radiating from the stalk. When ripe, the flesh is pale greenish-yellow with numerous brown to black seeds in the fruit pulp, but as the fruit grows older the outer part turns yellow. Ecology: C.lanatus is mainly found in sandy dry habitats and is in many cases the most important source of water in arid lands. It is the ancestor of cultivated watermelon, and indeed they are sought after food and water for humans as for insects, bird, rodents and mammals. Its outer layer is harder than that of watermelon and the pulp is firmer and more fibrous. The melons of C.lanatus can be stored buried in the sand for more than a year and still be edible, additionally they are known to be frost resistant. Uses: Citrillus lanatus, among other desert plants that produce edible fruits in the Cucurbitaceae family, may be an important genetic resource that may have useful traits, such as drought resistance and water efficiency, which could be useful for future food production in arid lands. In the meantime, its nutritious seeds can be crushed into a fine powder and mixed in water to make a healthy, but rather tasteless, porridge. The seeds can also be roasted in a fire or grounded, which makes a nutritious meal with a nutty taste. The leaves and young fruits are popular vegetables. Traditionally, the Bushmen in the Kalahari used the seeds to produce a skin cream, and today the seed oil is also used commercially for cosmetics. References: Bromilow C (1995), van der Walt P and le Riche E (1999), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), van Rooyen N (2001), Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photo by: Sabina Prรถls


Capparace The caper family

Cleome foliosa

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G & R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Occurs after rain in the western parts of Angola to the central Namib, and all the way down to the Northern Cape Province in South Africa. Identification: This is one of 19 Cleomes found in southern Africa, and is an erect robust plant with characteristically flashy flowers. The flowers have yellow petals that fade into a reddish color, and can be 2.5 cm long. The stamens are longer than the petals and about 5 or 6 of the former 24-35 fertile stamens are stouter than the rest. The stamens hold yellow or violet filaments. The leaves have 5-7 narrow leaflets. The 58 cm fruits are a type of capsule and can be straight to slightly curved. When the valves burst open they release tiny characteristically sculptured seeds of about 1 mm wide, which are used to distinguish the different species of Cleomes. Ecology: This plant is common in sandy watercourses and flowers in its first season. When conditions are right it may even become perennial and develop a fairly woody base. The tiny seeds are eaten by several bird species. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Fabaceae The pea family

Cullen obtusifolia

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Blue clover, stink clover, wild lucerene Nama/Damara: !honab

Afrikaans:

Blouklawer, stinkklawer, rooidagga

Distribution: Widespread in arid savannas in silty soils of depressions, pans and riverbeds. Identification: A mat-forming herb up to 1 m in diameter, with soft green stems, which secretes a sweet aromatic smell. The toothed leaves are silvery green to silvery grayish-green and clover-like, very variable in size and color all depending on water availability. Leaflets are egg shaped, widest near tips, densely silky and not conspicuously black-dotted. Small purple to mauve flowers are produced in axillary spikes. Ecology: Cullen obtusifolia is a herb that flowers during summer. The plant is palatable, rich in proteins and grazed down to the soil, especially by springbok. Uses: The Topnaar use the leaves or the whole plant in tea for flavoring, as this wets the appetite. Adding the root to milk gives the milk a good taste and curdles it into a kind of yoghurt. A decoction of the leaves is also drunk to relieve abdominal pain and postnatal pain. The root curdles milk (“dikmelk”). In parts of the Kalahari the leaves and stems are smoked as a tobacco and dagga substitute and have a sedative activity.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000) , van Rooyen N (2001) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Cucurbitaceae The pumpkin family

Dactyliandra welwitschii

Photo from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Native to Namibia, South Africa, Angola and India. Identification: Dactyliandra welwitschii is an extensive, herbaceous climber with a slender, much branched, hairy stem that ends in simple tendrils. The finger-like, rather thin leaves can get up to 8 cm long and nearly as broad. The white male flowers occur in a greater abundance that white female flowers, the latter which have a swollen base. Ecology: This is a monoecious climber that has an above ground stalk that remains visible during the dry season. Uses: The large underground bulbs are cooked and eaten by the San people in the Kalahari, and provide both food and water in times when Citrillus lanatus are scarce.

References: Bhandari M M and Singh D (1964) and Steyn H P (1984) Photo by: Maja Sjรถskog


Asteraceae The daisy family

Emilia marlothiana

Photos from Gamsbergpass Found in: R Common names: English: Marloth´s daisy

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Emilia marlothiana is typical and widespread in the drier parts of Namibia, and it grows throughout the central Namib and adjacent areas, into Angola. Identification: This herb has blue-green leaves arranged in rosettes at the base of the plant, sometimes the leaves are slightly fleshy. The terminal flower-heads are characteristic for this plant, and these are situated on long stalks that lack large ray florets (the outer flowers in daisies), as they are only composed of a dense crowd of yellow to white tube florets (the inner flowers in daisies). Ecology: This plant is most likely found along roadsides, but it occurs also on rocky slopes and in drainage lines. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al. (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Euphorbiaceae The spurge family

Euphorbia glanduligera

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G & R Common names: English: Namib milkweed

Afrikaans:

None found

Also known under the name Chamaesyce glanduligera. Distribution: Occurs in the Namib and the western areas of the Northern Cape. Identification: Euphorbia glanduligera has milky sap, blue-green leaves with red margins, blue-green stems and regularly, but widely spaced, branches. The small green flowers are found towards the top of the plant and after a closer look one can see that it is an arrangement made up of several small flowers. Ecology: This delicate plant is one of the few herbs that exist within the Euphorbias, and it is considered the most common herb in the Namib after good rains. It grows mainly on sandy and gravel plains. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Urticaceae The nettle family

Forsskaleoa candida

Photos from rocks east of Gobabeb Found in: G Common names: English: Namib nettle

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Forsskaleoa candida is common throughout the Namib, and also occurs south of the Orange River in the Northern Cape. Identification: This plant is characterized by its serrated and distinctly bicolored leaves – the top is dark green, and the underside is woolly and white to grey. Its main stalk is often bright red, with leaves being rough, leathery and shiny on top, and the leaf margins having widely spaced teeth and a scalloped appearance. The green flowers are small and enclosed in a hairy, flower-bearing structure. Depending on moisture supply, this herb can grow up to 50 cm or more. Ecology: The habitat of this species is rocky slopes and drainage lines, and it is often found in sandy soils between boulders on koppies. Its flowering time is from July to November. Uses: F.candida is used medically to treat various aliments, including headaches, stomachaches and influenza.

References: Burke A (2003b) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja SjĂśskog


Asteraceae The daisy family

Geigeria ornativa

Photos from Dieprivier Found in: G Common names: English: Common geigeria

Afrikaans:

Vermeerbos

Distribution: Geigeria ornativa is widely distributed throughout the drier parts of southern Africa and Angola. Identification: This plant can be recognized by its long narrow leaves that are situated in a circular arrangement at the base of the plant, along with its yellow flowers. It hardly reaches 20 cm in height. Dry, old plants remain in the veld for many years, with the plant only gradually releasing some seeds each season. Ecology: Even if this plant is most commonly found on plains, it can grow in almost all habitats. It causes a stock poisoning called “vermeersiekte�, and the plant has caused massive outbreaks in the past in South Africa’s Karoo with tremendous stock losses in goats, sheep and cattle. The disease causes paralysis and vomiting and eventually death of the animal. When this plant is observed in abundance, it is an indicator of overgrazed veld, since maintaining healthy veld conditions with reasonable grass cover and preventing overgrazing are the best cures to the disease. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Aizoaceae The vygie family

Gisekia africana

Photo from Kambergriver Found in: G & R Common names: English: Ostrich herb

Afrikaans:

Volstruisdruiwe, rooirankopslag

Distribution: This plant occurs throughout the drier parts of southern Africa, most notably in the Namib and the Kalahari. Identification: The Gisekia africana is an annual creeping herb with slender, spreading, prostate branches, which sometimes form little carpets on the ground. The narrow leaves are situated opposite from each other, arranged in pairs, and they do not have stipules. Pink to red flowers are arranged in clusters at the nodes of the branches and on the branch tips, with about 10-15 stamens. The fruit consists of 2-5 free carpels and is indehiscent and compressed. Ecology: Its preferred habitats are sandy and gravel plains, but it is also found along roadsides, in dry riverbeds and on rocky hillside. Flowering time for this herb is summer into autumn. Uses: -

References: van Rooyen Noel (2001), Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photo by: Joh Henschel


Asteraceae The daisy family

Helichrysum candolleanum

Photos from gravel plains close to Gobabeb Found in: G Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: It occurs in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Identification: This is a small herb with soft green-grayish leaves that are hairy and spoon-shaped. The white papery flowers are many and densely arranged on the tips of the hairy branches. Ecology: Uses: -

References: Hyde M A and Wursten B (2008) and Gobabeb herbarium Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Asteraceae The daisy family

Helichrysum roseo-niveum

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb and Dieprivier Found in: G & R Common names: English: South-west edelweiss, Namib edelweiss German: Südwester Edelweiß

Afrikaans:

Suidwes edelweiss

Distribution: This herb is endemic to the Namib and is distributed from southern Angola to the central Namib. It is common at times in certain localities of the arid west of the Namib, but still considered rare. Identification: The plant flowers while still young and single-stemmed, but may eventually become bushy with the main stem woody and nearly 10 mm in diameter. The silver colored leaves are covered with fine whitish “wool”, and the papery flowers vary from yellow to white with pink tips. It has a compact growth, close to the ground, and this is one feature that may distinguish this species from many other similar-looking ones. Ecology: Helichrysum roseo-niveum grows mainly on plains, but is also found in dry riverbeds and along roadsides. The “wool” protects the plant from the harsh rays of the sun. Uses: The Helichrysum plants (26 species in Namibia) have been used to stuff mattresses and pillows and were formerly exported from South Africa for this purpose. They are also used for making wreaths.

References: Craven P and Marais C (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000) and Burke A (2003b) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjöskog


Boraginaceae The borage family

Heliotropium ovalifolium

Photos from the Kuiseb near Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Grey leaf heliotrope

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Widely distributed in the northern and central parts of Namibia as well as the whole southern Africa. Identification: A low perennial herb that grows from a woody rootstock. The stems are grey and have prospect or erect hairs, with the white flowers situated on long curled inflorescences. The leaves are obovate to narrowly obovate and covered in stiff hairs, which gives the plant a silvery appearance. The small white flowers are tubular and arranged side by side in a row, with the lower flowers opening first. Ecology: Heliotropium ovalifolium is indigenous to both India and Africa, and grows in a variety of habitats, often in disturbed areas like depressions or along road sides. The flowering time is rain dependent. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Sterculiaceae The cocoa family

Hermannia modesta

Photos from Hope wash Found in: G & R Common names: English: Common hermannia German: Gewรถhnliche Hermannia

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: This herb is widespread in the drier parts of southern Africa, and it also occurs in northern Africa. Identification: The Hermannia modesta can be seen as a delicate herb or a small shrub, up to 400 mm tall, and could be classified as a herb or a multi-seasonal. It has small narrow leaves that are lance-shaped and grows on a long, delicate stalk. The leaves can either have an entire margin or be finely serrated. The pink, red or purple flowers are solitary in axils of leaves with petals usually shorter than 10 mm, and have a drooping, bell-shaped structure. Gland-tipped hairs are sometimes obvious. Ecology: This plant occurs widespread in the drier parts of its range, in a variety of vegetation types from savanna to desert. Around Gobabeb one can find it on the plains, in dry riverbeds and mountain slopes. Flowering time is from spring to autumn. Uses: -

References: van Rooyen Noel (2001), Burke A (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Fabaceae The pea family

Indigofera auricoma

Photos from the Kuiseb near Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Pink desert-indigofera

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: A typical plant of southern Africa’s drier regions, it occurs in the Namib and Kalahari Deserts and adjacent areas. Identification: Indigofera auricoma is a prostate to erect perennial herb with stems up to 50 cm long arising from the woody basis, with a mixed creeping and upright habit. Leaves are pinnate but not directly opposite, and the leaflets are linear to lance-shaped. Young leaves are golden-green and hairy on the upper surface while the mature leaves are green. The pyramid-shaped clusters forming the flowers are pink to purple, with the standard hairy and the keel slightly woolly at the top edge. Ecology: This plant is found in sandy, calcareous soils, as well as on plains, in pans and sometimes on calcrete outcrops. Its flowering time is summer. Uses: -

References: van Rooyen N (2001), Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja SjĂśskog


Rubiaceae The gardenia family

Kohautia caespitosa

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Desert perfume

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: This herb is widely distributed in southern Africa and occurs throughout the entire Namib Desert. Identification: Kohautia caespitosa is a delicate herb of the Namib plains, more often noticed by its sweet fragrant smell than by sight. It is a small plant that grows up to 30 cm high and bears an arrangement of small, white flowers on top of long, thin branches. The leaves are dark green, long and narrow, and often crowded towards the base of the plant. Ecology: In central Namib, the plant is most commonly found on plains and in drainage lines. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Molluginaceae The carpetweed family

Limeum argute-carinatum

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Goabeb Found in: R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

Koggelmandervoetkaroo, klosaarbossie

Distribution: Limeum argute-carinatum is found in almost throughout the whole of Namibia, as well as in South Africa and Botswana. Identification: This low-growing herb is slender and much branched with its stems being smooth and sprawling and up to 500 mm long. Its leaves are lance-shaped, stalked, smooth and fleshy and its flowers are white with a green median stripe. The flowers have 10 stamens and the anthers are bright yellow. The fruits are dark brown to black with a surface having an irregular network of sharp, almost scalloped-looking ridges. Ecology: It is mostly found on sandy plains and in washes. Flowering time for L.argute-carinatum is after rainy season. Uses: -

References: van Rooyen N (2001) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Sabine Prรถls


Molluginaceae The carpetweed family

Mollugo cerviana

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Identification: This herb is delicate and small with many erect stems that are smooth throughout. The leaves are arranged in whorls with the basal leaves linear or narrowly oblong, and the stem leaves linear and mostly blue-green. The flowers are also them delicate star-shaped with a green or whitish color and are grouped into terminal inflorescences. Ecology: The annual Mollugo cerviana has short-lived basal leaves and flowers mainly in summer and autumn. It prefers sandy soils. Uses: -

References: van Rooyen N (2001) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Geraniaceae The geranium family

Monsonia ignorata

Photos from Station Dune Found in: D Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Identification: Monsonia ignorata is a much-branched small herb with erect, relatively thick stems that all starts from the base and that ends with characteristically pleated fan-like heart-shaped leaves. It has white flowers. Ecology: This plant is well adapted to the constantly shifting sand, thus it is one of the few plants that are known to sparsely vegetate the dunes. Uses: -

References: Henschel J et al (2006), McGinley M (2008) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Geraniaceae The geranium family

Monsonia umbellata

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G & R Common names: English: None found Nama/Damara: Harapab, rabab

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Identification: This is an erect or creeping herb with opposite, heart shaped and serrated leaves. The white flowers develop into a 5-partite, baked splitting fruit. The seeds are tear-shaped and orange-brown, about 2-3 mm long and surrounded by a darker brown shell. Ecology: Uses: The seeds are collected by ants, thereafter the Topnaar gather the seeds from the ant nests and add them to tea, or roast and grind them and add them to coffee for a better flavor. Baked seeds can be eaten.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Apocynaceae The oleander family Subfamily Asclepiadaceae

Pergularia daemia

Photo from Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: G Common names: English: None found Nama/Damara: !gubib, !guwib, dai-!gubib, |gutama||ob

Afrikaans: Herero:

Bobbejaankambro Eriko

Distribution: Identification: This appealing climber/creeper with characteristically heart-shaped leaves can reach up to 3 m in trees. The leaves are opposite and pale-green, and the hairy leaf stalks are always longer than the size of the blade. The plant produces a milky latex and the small, creamy or greenish-white colored flowers have a double corona that are borne axillary in drooping clusters. The flowers are bell-shaped, with furry petals and stems, and they are followed by paired, rough, horned fruits that are borne on long stems. When the fruits split open they release many seeds with long white hairs. Ecology: Occurs in dry riverbeds and is widespread in savanna areas. Flowering time is mainly from late spring to summer. Uses: The Topnaar use root decoctions to treat venereal diseases and vein problems. Latex added to drinking water creates a poison that is known to be used to put down animals. Furthermore, the powder obtained by roasting the root or leaves and then grinding it is used to apply on wounds. In Botswana and Zululand (South Africa), the leaves are also eaten cooked as spinach. In many countries the same root decoction that the Topnaar uses is also used as a medicine to treat various complaints, such as arthritis, snake-bites muscular pains, asthma, rheumatism etc. The latex may also be used as fish poison.

References: Van den Eyden V et al. (1992), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000) and van Rooyen N (2001) Photo by: Maja Sjรถskog


Selaginaceae The selago family

Selago dinteri

Photos from the Kuiseb River Found in: R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

Witaarbos

Also known under the name Walafrida saxatilis. Distribution: Selago dinteri is widespread throughout the northern parts of southern Africa. Identification: This is a herb or small shrub with a height of about 400 mm. It has tiny, star-shaped leaves that are grouped into small clusters. The minute, white flowers are congested in spikes at branch tips. Its buff fruits are round capsules with a size of about 1 mm in diameter, and they contain a single, roundish, greenish seed. Ecology: S.dinteri is not palatable to stock. It grows in sandy soils and its flowering time is in autumn. Uses: -

References: van Rooyen N (2001) Photos by: Sabine Prรถls


Pedaliaceae The sesame family

Sesamum triphyllum

Photos from Khomabis, Dieprivier and Hudoap Found in: D Common names: English: Wild sesame, thunderbolt flower

Afrikaans:

Oliebossie, wilde sesaam, seeroogblaar, brandboontjie

Distribution: This plant is widely distributed throughout southern Africa. Identification: Sesame triphyllum is an erect, sparsely-branched, annual herb that can reach up to 1.5 m in favorable conditions. The unpleasantly scented leaves are usually composed of three leaflets, the two lateral ones stalkless, while the stalk of the central leaflet is short and the leaf margins are shallowly serrated. Pinkish-purple flowers grow solitary on the axils of leaves, and these are tubular and dividing into five shallowly lobed petals. Flowers are each followed by subtended small black glands, so-called extrafloral nectarines, which attract ants. The upright papery fruit can become up to 300 mm long and has a pointed tip. Ecology: S.triphyllum generally occurs widespread in grassland and savanna in sandy to loamy soils and disturbed places, but around Gobabeb it seems it is mostly found in the dunes. Flowering time is in summer to autumn. Uses: The small edible egg-shaped seeds are rich in oil and highly nutritious, and are eaten together with boiled maize. Medically the plant is used as aphrodisiac, by mixing the leaves with milk, or as a remedy against snakebite, by burning and drying the roots and mixing them with Vaseline.

References: Bromilow C (1995), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), van Rooyen N (2001), Burke A (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjรถskog


Solanaceae The potato family

Solanum nigrum

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Black nightshade, nightshade

Afrikaans:

Nastergal, galbessie

Distribution: Widely distributed in Europe, America and Africa. Identification: The name Solanum nigrum is still debated, whether it is only used to refer to a number of closely related species (which require specialized knowledge to tell apart) or if it is one single species. It has a height of 30-120 cm and long ovate to heart-shaped leaves with wavy or large-toothed edges. The petals of the flowers are white and the anthers are bright yellow. When aged the petals become recurved. The fruits consist of black oval berries that are carried in small hanging clusters. Ecology: This plant can probably be stated as an alien plant, as it is of South American origin, and is now considered a worldwide weed. When the berries are unripe and green they can be a danger to livestock. Like many plants from the family solanaceae this species is a host to nematodes. Uses: The ripe fruit is eaten cooked, although the unripe fruits are poisonous. S.nigrum can furthermore be used medically for skin diseases, rheumatism and gout. It can also cure ear and eye diseases.

References: Bromilow C (1995) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Fabaceae The pea family

Tephrosia dregeana

Photos taken in the Kuiseb near Gobabeb Found in: G, D & R Common names: English: None founds Nama/Damara: |hena|hab

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Identification: This legume can reach a height up to 1 m, and has odd-pinnate leaves that consists of 2-5 pairs of linear leaflets. The small lilac papilionaceous flowers grow in racemes and develop into small yellowish-green pods, which are slightly beaked and contain 3-5 seeds. Ecology: T.dregeana can be found mostly on the gravel plains of the Central Namib and in the Kuiseb Canyon. Uses: The Kuiseb Topnaar add the root of this herb to milk to curdle it into yoghurt.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Zygophyllaceae The devil’s thorn family

Tribulus terrestris

Photos from Sossuvlei Found in: G & R Common names: English: Devil’s thorn

Afrikaans:

Dubbeltjie, duwweltjie, dubbeltjiedoring, platdubbeltjie, volstruisdoring

Distribution: This herb is widely distributed throughout southern Africa. Identification: Tribulus terrestris is a weedy creeper with auxiliary bright yellow flowers, 10 mm in diameter, which are borne solitary in leaf axils. The soft-haired, compound leaves are composed of between five and ten, or more, neatly arranged small leaflets. The fruits are woody, sharp and spiny - a well-known minefield in dune valleys and other open patches. T.terrestris differs from Tribulus zeyheri by its smaller and slightly darker flowers, also the petals are a little longer than the sepals for T.terrestris. Both species contribute in varying degrees to the sea of flowers. See information sheet for T.zeyheri, since much of that information also can be applied on T.terrestris. Ecology: This plant is very common after good rains in disturbed areas such as around pans, watering points and along roadsides, although it can be found in almost all habitats. See more in the information sheet for T.zeyheri. Uses: This plant has medical properties and is used to treat diarrhea, throat and eye infections.

References: van der Walt P and le Riche E (1999), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Rooyen N (2001), Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photo by: Joh Henschel


Zygophyllaceae The devil’s thorn family

Tribulus zeyheri

Photos from Kuiseb River and Namibrand Found in: G & R Common names: English: Devil’s thorn

Afrikaans:

Dubbeltjie, duwweltjie, dubbeltjiedoring, platdubbeltjie, volstruisdoring

Distribution: No information found. Identification: Tribulus zeyheri is an annual creeper that forms pretty green carpets with masses of bright yellow flowers, 50 mm in diameter. It has pinnately compound leaves, and the size, number and degree of hairiness varies depending on the degree it is exposed to the sun; shaded plants are less hairy since the hairs are there for protecting the plant from drying out. Its fruits are woody, sharp and spiny, a wellknown minefield in dune valleys and other open patches. However, sometimes the spines can be reduced to a warted appearance. It may have many well-developed, latent underground stem and root systems that contributes to the quick flowering after a good rainfall. This specimen differs from Tribulus terrestris by its larger, slightly lighter flowers, but both species contribute in varying degrees to the sea of flowers. Much of the fact on this sheet can also be applied on T.terrestris. Ecology: The sharp spines of the fruits get stuck very easily in the hair and feet of animals. On top of that the flowers and leaves of T.zeyheri are the preferred food for many insects and animals because of its content of vitamin C, leading to that the species has been distributed to all the warmer regions of the country, and can be found in almost any habitat. They are particularly common on disturbed grounds and over-grazed areas. Certain weather conditions can however lead to the plant producing a chemical substance that can, when grazed, lead to tribulosis for the herbivore. This species is nonetheless the ostrich’s favorite food. Flowers close at night, in rain and when it is cold, to protect the pollen. Uses: -

References: van der Walt P and le Riche E (1999), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Rooyen N (2001), Burke A (2003b) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjöskog


Boraginaceae The borage family

Trichodesma africanum

Photos from the Kuiseb and rocks close to the Kuiseb, near Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Trichodesma africanum occurs in the western and west-central pats of Namibia, as well as the Cape Provinces of South Africa. Identification: This is an annual prickly herb that sometimes has a quite robust appearance, and can get up to 1 m in height. Branches have noticeable white prickles, and are often sparsely leafy. The leaves are opposite and ovate to narrowly ovate, mostly up to 100 mm long, and very prickly due to the presence of robust, irritating, often white bristles with swollen bases. The flowers are pale pink when young and dull red, blue and then white with blue margins when older. The seeds are also them spiny. Ecology: This sticky plant occurs in disturbed areas along roads where water collects during rainy season, as well as between rocks along sandy watercourses and on rocky slopes. Uses: -

References: Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Vahliaceae

Vahlia capensis

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Except Namibia this herb is also found in Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Identification: Vahlia capensis is a herb with long narrow hairy leaves that are regularly situated on the several small erect stems. The yellow flowers are often red to orange in the base of the sharply pointed petals, and they are situated in axillary pairs. Ecology: It is usually found in riverbeds, particularly on sandy or loose soil. Uses: This plant is known to have been used medically in Botswana to cure sore eyes in small children.

References: Majinda R R T et al. (1995), Henschel J et al. (2006) and Hyde M A and Wursten B (2007) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Multi-seasonals


Boraginaceae The borage family

Codon royenii

Photo from the Kuiseb and Dieprivier Found in: R & G Common names: English: White codon, sugar chalice German: WeiĂ&#x;e Codon

Afrikaans:

Suikerkelk

Distribution: This multi-seasonal plant occurs in the Northern Cape, southern Namibia and the central Namib Desert. Identification: Codon royenii is a large, erect, compact multi-seasonal, sometimes reaching a height of 1.2 m. The stems are woody at the base and densely armed with white spines, as well as with extremely spiny leaves. The leaves are grayish-green, ovate to broadly lanceolate, and with the spines mainly concentrated in the margins. The attractive cream-colored flowers are large and deeply cup-shaped to almost tubular. The petals have dark red stripes on their outer surface. Ecology: The plant can be found in drainage lines, riverbeds and disturbed and rocky habitats. The nectar attracts insects, including carpenter bees and pollen wasps, and the fruits are often heavily infested with lepidopteran larvae. Uses: The Nama people collect the flowers as a delicacy for their nectar, hence the English and Afrikaans common names.

References: Burke A (2003b) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photo by: Joh Henschel and Sabine PrĂśls


Loasaceae The loasa family

Kissenia capensis

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G & R Common names: English: Sandpaper plant, sand paper bush German: Sandpapierbusch

Afrikaans:

Kloublaar

Distribution: Kissenia capensis occurs in the Northern Cape and western Namibia. Identification: This plant has a bright-green appearance and a tall and stiff upright growth. Its leaves are large, very rough (hence the common name) and serrated. The large, white flowers with hairs that prick like tiny thistles are surrounded by long leaves, which develop into structures aiding seed dispersal. The plant can reach up to 1 m high. Ecology: K.capensis is common in drainage lines, riverbeds and disturbed habitats, but also grows on rocky places. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (1992), Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Pedaliaceae The sesame family

Rogeria longiflora

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: R & G Common names: English: White-flowered rogeria Nama/Damara: Dau|anab, ||gam|awib

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: This plant occurs throughout the Northern Cape, southern Namibia and the Central Namib. Identification: Rogeria longiflora can grow tall, up to 2 m in places, and produce large and smelly dark green leaves and white, tubular flowers. The flowers are positioned close to the stem, often in groups of one to three. After fertilization, the flowers produce a large, wooden pod that remains on the plant for a long time. Ecology: This plant is a common sight along roadsides and drainage lines, as it is widespread in these disturbed areas. It also grows on rocky slopes and stony plains. The seedpods are divided into two compartments, one outer and one inner part. The outer part eventually dries out and opens, and gradually releases seeds. The smaller inner compartment stays closed and does not open until the pod starts disintegrating. This may lead to the seeds in the inner compartment not being released until decades after the plant’s active period. Uses: R.longiflora is used in traditional medicine as an ailment for wounds and burns. The Topnaar roast and ground the seeds, sometimes mixing them with fat, and applying it to wounds to stop bleeding. This mixture is also rubbed on burns to provide relief from pains. Warmed leaves are used as a poultice on women’s breasts to cure cracked nipples.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja SjĂśskog


Asteraceae The daisy family

Tripteris microcarpa

Photos from the Kuiseb and the gravel plains close to Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Tall desert-daisy

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: This plant occurs throughout the Northern Cape, southern Namibia and the central Namib. Identification: Tripteris microcarpa is tall and sparsely branched near the base, and a common sight in the drier parts of Namibia. It has yellow, showy flowers that are carried in terminal clusters on almost leafless stalks. The winged grey-green fruits are carried in drooping heads and the leaves are hairy. Ecology: It is a plant of disturbed areas and drainage lines, but can also be found on rocky slopes. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Shrubs


Cucurbitaceae The pumpkin family

Acanthosicyos horridus

Photos from the interdune close to Gobabeb and Khomabis Found in: G, D & R Common names: English: Nara, butternut Nama/Damara: !nara

Afrikaans: Herero:

Narra, botterpitte Omungaraha

Distribution: The !nara is endemic to the coastal part of the Namib Desert. Identification: This perennial bush is densely tangled and the paired thorns are sharp but soft. Stems are leafless and photosynthesis occurs on the green stem and thorns. Clumps that can reach up to 10 m in diameter and about 1 m tall are formed from one single individual. The plant is dioecious, with the green flowers found in the axils of thorns, and up to 12 mm long. To distinguish between the sexes one can look at the flowers, the female plant flower being swollen at the base and the male plant flowers year through. The pale orange-yellow thorny fruits are about the size of an ostrich egg and weighs about a kilogram. Ecology: Acanthosicyos horridus always grows on sand dunes where the large taproots (the xylems are the widest found in any living plant) can reach subterranean water, and where it works as an important sand dune stabilizer and a shelter for insects and reptiles. The !nara is eaten by game and livestock, but the main seed dispersal around Gobabeb is done by jackals and gerbils. The harvesting season for the fruits extends from about November till May. Uses: Archeological studies indicate that the A.horridus has been a food source for humans living in the Namib during the past 8000 years, and it has played an important role in the lives of the Topnaar, sometimes being the only source of food. All parts of the fruits are utilized, the flesh as food (boiled or dried for preservation), seeds are dried and stored for winter, the leathery strips that is a good iron source can last for years and oils from the seeds can be used for rubbing into the face. The seeds are highly nutritious; they contain about 57% oil (peanuts e.g. contain 42-52% oil), with a high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids, and 31% protein. References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Henschel J et al (2004), Seely M (2004), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjรถskog


Fabaceae The pea family

Adenolobus pechuelii

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G Common names: English: Namib neat’s foot German: Namib Hufstrauch

Afrikaans:

Namibbeesklou

Distribution: From Angola southwards to the Maltahöhe district. Identification: After rainfall this plant shoots bright yellow flowers followed by bright red pods. The flowers consist of 5 petals, about 2.5 cm long and one of which have red spots. It is an erect, small shrub that can reach a height of 1.5 m in some areas, with an average of 60 to 90 cm. The leaves are slightly folded and heart shaped. Ecology: Adenolobus pechuelii stays leafless most of the year to cope with the harsh environment it lives in. It is well grazed by game and livestock. Uses: The Topnaar have used the roots for the treatment of liver complaints.

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjöskog


Scrophulariaceae The foxglove family

Aptosinum spinescens

Photos from Valencia Uranium Found in: G & R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

Doringviooltjie, kankerbossie, rolvarkie

Distribution: Occurs widespread throughout Namibia, but with a larger concentration in the southern regions of the country. It also occurs in South Africa and Botswana. Identification: The Aptosimum spinescens is a woody dwarf shrub, up to 30-40 cm tall, and has robust spiny branches, which can be up to 1.7 cm long. The narrow leaves are smooth-margined with spinous apices arranged in tufts on short shoots. Its blue to purple flowers are tubular with a white throat together with purple patches, and are on average 1.5 cm in diameter. The thick-walled capsule that follows is egg-shaped and brown to black, and can persist for several seasons. Ecology: This species tends to favor shallow riverbeds and plains with sandy soil, even though it can occasionally be found along road verges in full sun. It is an unpalatable and spinous species, thus not eagerly grazed by livestock except under pressure. Uses: Leaves are used as a remedy for cancer.

References: van Rooyen N (2001), le Roux A and Schelpe T (1997), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Amaranthaceae The amaranth family

Arthraerua leubnitziae

Photos from Gungo Hamil plains and Witpoortberge Found in: G Common names: English: Pencil shrub

German:

Bleistiftpflanze

Distribution: Endemic to western Namibia. Identification: A low dark green shrub with erect jointed stems, which are thick and juicy and may be about 50 cm long. Its leaves are reduced to scales. The small flowers are densely packed on the inflorescence, obscured among thin, dry, grayish bracts. Silky hairs cover the outer part of the perianth while the inside is deep scarlet. Ecology: This plant is very common on the gravel plains west of Gobabeb, where it often for many kilometers forms the only vegetation together with lichens. When it grows on sandy areas it can form hummocks by trapping wind-blown sand. The eastern boundaries of the habitat of Arthraerua leubnitziae seems to be limited by the fog belt, whilst the northern limit is thought to be the Ugab River, and to the south it extends to the L端deritz area. This plant has shown not to absorb fog directly, but utilizes the water that accumulates on the ground surface. However, its key to survival is to great extent its stem, which is protected from the wind and high transpiration rates by a few adaptations. Firstly, the shrub has chlorophyll in the stems, which makes leaves unnecessary for photosynthesis and therefore reduces water loss from leaves. Furthermore, stomata, which usually are found on leaves, are sunken into numerous longitudinal grooves that are visible on the stems. The growth structures of the individual stems are an additional adaptation since by this they shelter each other through their close proximity. Uses: A decoction of the roots is drunk to ease tremblings by the Topnaar.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Acanthaceae The acanthus family

Blepharis obmitrata

Photos from Gungochoab Found in: G Common names: English: Mountain thistle

Afrikaans:

Bergdistel

Distribution: This plant is widespread throughout central and northern Namibia, and also occurs in Botswana and South Africa. Identification: The Blepharis obmitrata grows upright and can reach 40 cm in height. It has a spiny appearance and distinctly two-lobed blue to purple flowers, and its fruits are hidden in spiny bracts and explode when they have absorbed sufficient moisture. Ecology: The B.obmitrata is found on plains, in rocky habitats and disturbed places. There are 21 Blepharis species in Namibia, some very similar to B.obmitrata. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Capparace The caper family

Boscia foetida

Photo from Trekkopje Found in: G & R Common names: English: Smelly shepherd’s tree, smelly boscia, stink bush Nama/Damara: Xaube|hunis, xaubes Herero: Otjinautoni, omungwindi

Afrikaans: German: Wambo:

Stinkwitgat, noeniebos, stinkbos, witgatboom Nonibusch, stinkbusch Omunghundi, omunawele

Distribution: Widespread throughout Namibia and the western parts of the Northern Cape. Identification: The Boscia foetida is a large shrub or small dense tree (1.5–3.5 m tall) with sharply angular, spiky branches, and small egg shaped or lance shaped leaves in small tight fascicles, densely clustered along the branches. The green to grayish-green leaves are leathery and with or without hairs, while the bark is smooth and grey to pale grey. Its star-shaped flowers are small and greenish and situated in tight, short clusters along the stems, and is later replaced by spherical yellow berries, about 10 mm in diameter, which are covered in hair. The flowers and the freshly cut wood have an intense unpleasant smell, hence the common names. Ecology: This small tree occurs in various habitats such as plains, hill slopes and in dry rivers. It is, however, only found on stony, rocky or gravel substrates, never on sand, unless there is underlying rock. B.foetida flowers from August to April, with two peaks, one in September-October and one in April. Uses: Decoctions are used to promote menstruation. The Topnaar use a decoction of the leaves and twigs to drip into ears to relieve earaches and into the eyes to relieve eye pains. The Bushmen use a decoction of the leaves for the same purposes, and they also eat the berries and the roots after pounding them into a porridge. The roots are also used as a chicory substitute. A decoction of the plant is drunk to stimulate lactation and relieve back pains. These last uses occur all over southern Africa. References: Craven P and Marais C (1992), van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Berry C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), van Rooyen N (2001), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photo by: Joh Henschel


Amaranthaceae The amaranth family

Caliocorema capitata

Photos from Gobabeb Found in: G Common names: English: Grey desert brush

Afrikaans:

Nama/Damara:

German:

InĂťgus

Kleinswartstorm, asbos, bloubasbos, bloustormbos Grauer Binsenstrauch, wĂźstenbinsenstrauch

Distribution: This shrub is a common sight in the Namib, and it occurs throughout the desert and adjacent areas, from the Northern Cape to the northern Namib and Angola. Identification: Calicorema capitata is a stiff grey-green to blue-green shrub with many untidily branched twigs and small, scale-like leaves. It can get up to 1 x 1 m, even if it is mostly seen smaller than that. The branches are smooth, with a waxy look, and the leaves (that fall off early) are linear and somewhat fleshy. The flowers are tuft-like with long whitish silky hairs on the outside and a striking pink centre. Ecology: Most of the time this shrub is leafless with photosynthesis occurring in the stems, effectively limiting water loss. Unlike the Calicorema that lives along the Namibian coast, the inland population flower and produce seeds year round. They are usually found close to rocks, since the condensation of fog on the rock surface increases the water availability for the plant, but also along dry washes on plains, in red dune sand and along riverbeds. The collection of organic material around its base offers a favorable habitat for beetles, lizards, gerbils and snakes. It provides a good browse, particularly during the dry season, when most other shrubs have lost their leaves. Bees visit the flowers in large numbers. Although it flowers during the rainy season, persistent flowers remain almost all year round except towards the end of dry season. Uses: The common name in Afrikaans, asbos, is probably given because one can produce soap from the ashes from the branches. References: van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al. (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja SjĂśskog


Solanaceae The potato family

Datura innoxia

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R & G Common names: English: Downy thorn apple Nama/Damara: |ohais

Afrikaans:

Harige stinkblaar

Distribution: Widely distributed all over Namibia. Identification: This plant can reach a height of 1 m or more, and the large oval leaves with irregular margins have a foul smell. The leaves and stems are hairy, and the tubular, funnel-shaped white flowers are up to 20 cm long and grow solitary in the leaf axis. The nodding fruit capsules are spiny, pendant and eggshaped, and they open with 4 valves to release numerous black seeds. Ecology: Alien species. This herbaceous alien is common in all riverbeds and river valleys in the Namib, and is very competitive in watercourses. Datura innoxia was probably introduced into southern Africa from North and Central America with impure fodder or agricultural seeds, or as an ornament. Uses: The Topnaar use warm leaves to put onto sores in the armpit to draw out pus. The Ovambo give a root decoction to insane people in order to silence them. In South Africa, a decoction of the plant has been used as an intoxicant, sometimes with fatal results.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Steenkamp C and Smit P (2002) and Henschel J et al (2006). Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Solanaceae The potato family

Datura stramonium

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Large/common thorn-apple

Afrikaans:

Grootstinkblaar, gewone stinkblaar

Distribution: Widely distributed around the world. Identification: This is a robust annual herbs with large toothed leaves, white or pale purple flowers and very characteristically thorny seed capsules. It has white to pale purple flowers and numerous small spines on the erect fruit capsules. It can reach a height of 1.5 m. Ecology: Alien species. Datura stramonium was possibly introduced into southern Africa from North America with impure fodder or agricultural seeds, probably in the beginning of the 18th century. It is now declared weeds in southern Africa, not only because of its poisonous properties, but also because of its tall and aggressive growth habit. It is considered the most widely distributed species in southern Africa and is a serious annual weed to crops. Uses: Infusions and decoctions of the fresh and dried leaves are used in carefully determined doses to sedate hysterical and psychotic patients, and sometimes the powered roots and leaves are used as consciousness-altering snuff. The Datura stramonium leaves contain the alkaloid hyoscyamine that is used in some asthma remedies. The seeds and seedlings are, however, very poisonous and human fatalities have been recorded. The plant is cultivated in central Europe and South America for the production of atropine.

References: Bromilow C (1995), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Plumbaginaceae The leadwort family

Dyerophtum africanum

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G Common names: English: Desert statice

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: This shrub can be found on most inselbergs throughout the central and southern Namib. Identification: Dyerophytum africanum loses its leaves during the dry season and is then hard to recognize. During the growing season, on the other hand, a complicated arrangement of prominently displayed flowers makes this plant unmistakable. It has a fine, often rounded appearance and grey-green leaves that are slightly fleshy and roundish with a small acute tip. The tubular flowers can range in color from cream to deep red, and they are clustered in dense spikes at branch tips. Ecology: It is most prominent in rocky places, but it also grows in drainage lines. The flowering time is variable and rain-dependent. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Scrophulariaceae The foxglove family

Jamesbrittenia maxii

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Occurs in southern Angola, through the western parts of Namibia and across the Orange River into the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Identification: This is a very hairy half-shrub with attractive tubular white flowers on the upper axils of the erect branchlets. The short hairs on the branchlets are soft and sticky and often wet to touch. The base of the plant is woody, but the densely branched upper parts are herbaceous and reach a height of 40 cm. The calyx and corolla of the 2.5 cm long white to creamy yellow flower are 5-lobed while the 10 mm fruits are almost entirely hidden by the leaves. Ecology: Jamesbrittenia maxii (previously Sutera maxii) is usually found in shallow watercourses, although here around Gobabeb single plants are dispersed along the dry Kuiseb and also sometimes on the gravel plains. Uses: -

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Solanaceae The potato family

Nicotiana glauca

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Wild tobacco, Mexican tobacco, tree tobacco, blue-green nicotiana

Afrikaans:

Jan twak, wilde tabak, tabakboom, volstruisgifboom

Distribution: This species originates from Argentina but has now spread to all warmer regions worldwide. Identification: Around Gobabeb Nicotiana glauca can be found in high quantities along the Kuiseb, as small spinachlike leaves to small trees of a few meter. Its dark green leaves are rather big, and the seed capsules that derives from the light yellow elongated flowers contains hundreds of tiny seeds, which are easily transported by water. Ecology: Alien species. This plant is believed to have been brought to Namibia in the 19th century as an ornamental by missionaries or in horse fodder during the German occupation. N.glauca is highly toxic, especially the seeds, for all animals except certain butterflies and the Marico sunbird that are attracted to the yellow flowers. Because of its shallow roots it cannot withstand floods, but due to its abundance of seeds it easily spreads again. Additionally, it is highly tolerant to dry conditions and it is said to be able to obtain moisture from fog. Flowering time is mainly from September to November and January, although the flowers may be found all year round. Uses: Although this wild version of the ordinary tobacco is closely related to the latter it has little commercial value and cannot be smoked because of its high quantities of the highly toxic tobacco-type alkaloid anabasine (similar to nicotine). However, this alien species does have some uses, as it is known that warmed leaves have been used to relieve headaches by putting them on the head, and also on the throat to relieve pain there and in the shoes for tired painful feet. The branches are used by the Topnaar for the construction of houses, kraals and fences. Furthermore, it has been used as rat poison in Italy and the dried flowers are said to kill cockroaches. References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Bromilow C (1995), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Steenkamp C and Smit P (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al. (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Apocynaceae The oleander family Subfamily Asclepiadaceae

Orthanhtera albida

Photos from dunes close to Gobabeb Found in: G and D Common names: English: None found Nama/Damara: |arib

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Relatively common throughout the Namib Desert on stony hills and sides of washes, sometimes in extremely arid areas. Identification: The Orthanhtera albida can reach 1.5 m, and the bare twigs have rod-like branches that are erect and pale green or frosted-grey. The flowers are plenty and form a pseudo-umbel, with the outer color grey and inner color apple green to yellow. Often only scale like remains of the leaves are seen since the leaves are absent during flowering time, but when they exists they are narrow and can reach a length of 3 cm long and 1-2 mm wide. Seedpods are big and pale green with black markings. Ecology: The pollen of this plant occurs in two connected pollen sacs, which suggest insect pollination. Additionally, the small opening of the flower suggests the pollinator to be tiny or equipped with a very long proboscis. Uses: The fruits are edible and the stems are chewed to clean the teeth. Chewing the stems or drinking a decoction of the stems is done by the Topnaar to relieve stomach pains. Drinking a decoction of the seeds cures kidney and back diseases. Also the root is put in beer to improve the flavor, and the fruits are popular among Topnaar children. Young fruits may be eaten completely, but in the case of older fruits only the inner part of the peel is eaten after removing the outer part and the seeds.

References: Van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000), Nel M (1995) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos: Maja Sjรถskog


Fabaceae The pea family

Parkinsonia africana

Photos taken at Hope wash Found in: G Common names: English: Wild green-hair tree

Afrikaans:

Nama/Damara:

Herero:

|khâb

Wilde groenhaarboom, lemoendoring, lemoenhout, thaboom, waterboom Omuumbamenye

Distribution: Semi arid and arid parts of Namibia and the Northern Cape, probably also southwestern Botswana. Identification: Parkinsonia africana is a tall, thin-stemmed shrub or a small slender tree with a usual height of about 3.5 m, but it can grow much larger. The bark is yellow-green and bent in angular patterns, equipped with solid spines. The leaves are compound and usually clustered in the axils of spines, and the leaflets are tiny or often even absent leaving simply the dark green central axes which looks like bunches of long green hair. The yellow flowers are arranged in lax racemers, with 5 petals and 10 stamens up to 1 cm long, having the upper petals larger than the others. The indehiscent pods are flat, slender and hairless, reddish-brown when young and paler straw-colored when mature. Ecology: This hardveld fighter is an important link between the Namib Desert and the adjacent Kalahari. The striking color of the bark is caused by chlorophyll, thus the bark helps with the photosynthesis, maximizing the collection of energy. Furthermore water loss is restricted to a minimum by the small or absent leaves. It is found in bare, arid areas, commonly seen on sandy plains near dry watercourses. Its leaves are browsed by game and livestock, but only when nothing else is available. Flowering time for P.africana is summer. Protected species in Namibia. Uses: Inhabitants of the Namib have used leaves as a medicine, while the seeds are said to be used as a substitute for coffee by burning the ripe light-brown seeds. Furthermore, the green pods and leaves are cooked as vegetables when nothing else is available. References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), van der Walt P and le Riche E (1999), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Rooyen N (2001), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja SjĂśskog


Asteraceae The daisy family

Pechuel-Loeschea leubnitziae

Photos from gravel plains close to Gobabeb and Gungochoab Found in: G and R Common names: English: Wild sage, bitter bush Nama/Damara: Autsi!khanneb Herero: Omundumba

Afrikaans: German: Ndonga:

Bitterbos Bitterbusch Oshizimba

Distribution: Pechuel-Loeschea leubnitziae is indigenous to Namibia and widespread throughout the country, especially in the central parts, and its range is increasing. Identification: This shrub has light-grey woody stems with grey-green leaves covered with fine hairs. The leaves contain aromatic oil and when crushed, exude herb-like scent. It has small pale purple to pinky-red flowers that forms heads typical of the Asteraceae family. Dry flowers are like small, hard shaving brushes. The shrubs in the Namib grow shorter than other areas, where they can reach 2 m. Ecology: The woody stems die every year only to grow back again at the beginning of rainy season. The roots penetrate deeply and the flowers can therefore flower even in dry times. The hair, which covers the leaves, reduces the rate of transpiration and protects the plant from dehydration. This plant is considered an indicator of disturbed soils caused by heavy grazing or road building. The name “bitterbos” derives from the fact that the milk of cows that grazes upon this bush becomes very bitter. The plant is grazed during droughts, and the Herero cows grazed in areas where this bush was plentiful, which lead to the name to the town “Omaruru”, meaning bitter curds. Uses: The sap of the roots helps for stomachache and the sap of the leaves is an effective insect repellent, especially mosquitoes. The Herero men mix roasted, ground roots with fat for rubbing this on their neck as a cosmetic. They also drink an extract of the roots to treat gonorrhea. The Ovambo drink a leaf decoction for fever and inhale plant fumes to relieve colds. References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), van der Walt P and le Riche E (1999), Craven P and Marais C (2000), Burke A (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjöskog


Acanthaceae The acanthus family

Petalidium setosum

Photos taken at Kulala Found in: G & R Common names: English: Namib petal-bush

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: The Petaldium setosum can be found largely along the desert margins, from south of the Orange River right into Angola. The centre of its distribution is the central Namib. Identification: This plant can be recognized by its bright-green leaves during its growing season, but when it looses its leaves it is inconspicuous. Many of the branches creep close to the ground, even if the central one is usually erect. The flowers have four lobes, which are usually red with a striking yellow lower lip. They are clustered near the branches in densely packed, hairy flower heads. When dry, the plant retains its seeds in wooden structures. The small fruits soak up moisture during rains and burst once a certain threshold of moisture is reached, thereby dispersing their seeds. Ecology: This is a species typical of drainage lines and depressions, but is also found on inselbergs and plains. P.setosum provides good browsing for game and livestock, and the heavily browsed plants are often found in the farming areas along the desert margins. Uses: -

References: Burke A (2003b), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Fabaceae The pea family

Prosopis glandulosa

Photos taken at Hakos Found in: G Common names: English: Texas mesquite, honey locust Nama/Damara: |narab

Afrikaans:

Suidwesdoring, soetpeul

Distribution: Widespread throughout Namibia, the Karoo and the Kalahari of Botswana. Identification: This is a small tree or multi-stemmed shrub with a height of 3-7 m. Branches may or may not have thorns, and the green foliage is common and distinct in dry valleys and depressions. The leaves are twice compound and wary in size and shape, with an average of 7-22 pairs of opposite hairless leaflets. The numerous small or cream-colored yellow flowers are arranged in a long spike and the 20 cm long straight pods are slender and cylindrical, and become woody with age. Ecology: Alien species. This tree was imported as an ornamental from southwestern United States, as a part of the Okahandja Experimental Garden in 1897, but has now become naturalized over considerable areas of Namibia. In arid areas it is nevertheless an important shade tree, and its pods provide a valuable fodder. It is tolerant to extreme temperatures, severe droughts and overgrazing, which unfortunately also makes is a good competitor against native plants, also because of the forming of dense thickets which excludes natural vegetation. It is considered a major problem in southern Africa and the Department of Nature Conservation in Namibia has introduced a program to eradicate it from the Namib Desert Park. Unfortunately control is difficult because plants resprout from dormant buds just below ground level. Uses: Bees produce a good honey from the floral nectar, hence its common name. The pods are eaten by both people and livestock. Native Americans use the pods to make a stew or an alcoholic beverage. References: Weiss E (1989), van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Bromilow C (1995), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Rooyen N (2001), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Steenkamp C and Smit P (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al. (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Euphorbiaceae The spurge family

Ricinus communis

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Castor oil plant, wonder tree Nama/Damara: |kheras

Afrikaans:

Kasterolieboom, bloubottelboom

Distribution: Ricinus communis is probably indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean region and Eastern Africa, but is today widespread throughout tropical regions, including the Namib. Identification: This invasive species in the Namib can reach a height of 2-4 m and has 7 radiating, pointed leaflets with slightly saw-like edges and prominent central veins. The flowers are green and not immediately obvious, but pink or red in pigmented varieties. Many stamens are close to the base and branching pistils are close to the top of the flower, which in the end give rise to soft-spined fruits. Ecology: Alien species. The origin of the Namibian populations of Ricinus communis is not certain, but it is believed to have come with Stone Age man from tropical Africa about 3000 years ago. Generally a perennial which is fast growing and found on disturbed places like roadsides, waste places and occasional together with perennial crops as sugar cane. Uses: The seeds of Ricinus communis contain the highly poisonous protein ricin and hence is very toxic. Ricin inhibits protein synthesis in cells, and is used as a biochemical reagent and in cancer research. However, ricin is not present in the oil and the seeds are therefore the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses. It is used as a purgative, an emollient, in creams, ointments, clear soaps and lipstick. Castor bean production for oil is big in India, China and Brazil and the plant is also cultivated in northern Namibia. The Topnaar uses the boiled seeds to rub on to swollen cheeks in cases of toothache and mumps. The roasted and ground seeds are applied on burns and wounds. Furthermore, a warmed leaf is used as a poultice on wounds and skin diseases, also on painful knees or breasts and on the throat in cases of throat pains. References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Bromilow C (1995), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Chenopodiaceae The goosefoot family

Salsola tuberculata

Photos from gravel plains close to Gobabeb and Hope wash Found in: G & D Common names: English: Ganna species German: Brackbusch, Salzbusch

Afrikaans:

Brakbos

Distribution: The Salsola species occur throughout the arid parts of Namibia, however the Lüderitz area is believed to be their centre of diversity. 20 species are endemic to this area and the areas nearby in the southern Namib. However, they can be found on all altitudes, mostly along the coast but also in dry, brackish areas inland. In the vicinity of Gobabeb one species have been identified (S. tuberculata) (Henschel J et al. 2006). Identification: Plants in this genus are very difficult to tell apart. The genus is characterized by reduced, somewhat succulent leaves, which are compactly packed around the branches. In arid areas like this the color is usually grey-green, while at other places they can have more variation during the year. The flowers are tiny and papery, in groups at the end of the short branches, and the seeds are flat with wings. Ecology: The Chenopodiaceae species are common in arid places like Namibia, and among these are the Salsola species that are significant components of the southern Namib flora. The name Salsola means “salty”, and the shrubs are generally found on plains and often in salty areas such as pans. Insect galls are common on the Salsolas and can be mistaken for fruit. Uses: Many of the Salsolas are well grazed, but the Salsola tuberculata is toxic to livestock if consumed in great quantities.

References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Burke A (2003a) and Henschel J et al. (2006). Photos by: Joh Henschel and Maja Sjöskog


Salvadoraceae The mustard tree family

Salvadora persica

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Mustard tree, tooth-brush tree Nama/Damara: Khoris Ndonga: Okatunduya, omumkavu

Afrikaans: German: Herero:

Kerriebos, woestynmosterdboom Lรถwenbusch Otjingambu

Distribution: In Namibia mostly from Rostock north to the Kunene river, and also in other parts of Africa, Arabia and eastern India. Identification: The evergreen shrub Salvadora persica has a yellow-green color and fleshy 2.5-5 cm oblong to oval long leaves in opposite pairs that are right angles to each other. The greenish-yellow flowers are small and the fruits that follow are round and smooth about 5 mm or more in diameter, with a pink or bright red color. Around Gobabeb the shrub can reach 4 m and be equally wide, with long drooping branches. Occasionally a neat small tree trimmed by grazing can be found. Ecology: As it occurs in arid and saline areas throughout the country, this shrub is found in the fringes of the Kuiseb riverbed. 80% of the birds in the vicinity of Gobabeb eat the fruits of S.persica, in addition to jackals and livestock. The flowers appears to be present throughout the year, and the juicy berries are very rich in oil (benzyl mustard oil) and have a sweet, peppery, aromatic flavor when young, which however brings one to acute thirst after consumed. Uses: Indigenous people throughout Africa use the twigs or roots as toothbrushes or for treating toothache, thus one of the common names. The Damara people along the Ugab River use the boiled berries for making jam or simply just eating when dried. The Ovambo rub a mixture of crushed leaves and water over the body to treat rash.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Berry C (2000), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Seely M (2004), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Solanaceae The potato family

Solanum burchellii

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R & G Common names: English: None found

Afrikaans:

None found

Distribution: Fairly widespread in Namibia, down to the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Identification: Solanum burchellii is a highly branched, robust shrublet with a height of 0.3-1 m. It has scattered, delicate, straight to slightly bent thorns, and occasionally almost no thorns. The grey-green leaves are lanceolate to elliptic with wavy margins. The purple flowers are deeply lobed with five yellow anthers that stick out noticeably. The fruits consist of small round berries that are about 12 mm in diameter and orange-red when ripe. Ecology: This species is locally common in a wide variety of habitats, from sandy, dry watercourses to rocky outcrop slopes. It is usually found under trees and other shrubs. Uses: -

References: Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Trees


Fabaceae The pea family The Mimosoideae (acacia) subfamily

Acacia erioloba

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Camel thorn Nama/Damara: ||ganab Herero: Omumbonde

Afrikaans: German: Ndonga:

Kameeldoring Kameldornbaum Omuthiya

Distribution: Large parts of southern Africa, in the Namib mostly in dry riverbeds and arid regions. Identification: Varies from a small, very spiny shrub of 2 m, to an umbrella-shaped tree up to 12 m in height, with an average of 6 to 7 m. The grey to dark brown bark is deeply furrowed and the leaves have 2 to 5 pairs of pinnae, each bearing 8 to 15 pairs of leaflets. Flowers are bright yellow balls and they end up in a thickened, relatively short pod that is half moon-shaped and covered with grey, velvety felt. The paired, straight thorns are among the cruelest produced by any Acacia. Ecology: Being one of the most widespread species in Namibia, the Acacia erioloba occurs in dry woodland and arid stony or sandy areas. The pods are a wanted fodder for livestock, but there have been reports that during certain seasons of the year these pods are poisonous. It flowers from August until May. This tree is protected by the department of Forestry because of its previous popularity for timber and fuel. Uses: The seeds of this tree are roasted as a coffee substitute, and A.erioloba also produces a good quality gum that is eaten by both humans and animals. An infusion of the gum is also taken for coughs, colds and tuberculosis, and a bark decoction is taken for diarrhea. The Topnaar makes a powder of the inner bark that is used as a perfume and it is also important firewood. In times of famine, the Topnaar also use to eat the pulp of the pods. The dark red-brown wood is very strong as well as resistant against termites and borers and was previously used for mine props and wagon-building. One of its greatest usages is however the shade it provides for man and beast. References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al. (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog and unknown Gobabebian


Fabaceae The pea family The Mimosoideae (acacia) subfamily

Acacia reficiens

Photos from Gamsberg, Aussinaniplains and Hope wash Found in: G Common names: English: Red umbrella thorn, false umbrella thorn, red-thorn German: Rotrindenkazie Ndonga: Omutyuula

Afrikaans: Nama/Damara: Herero:

Rooihaak, deurmekaardoring, Rooihaaken-steek, haak-en-steek !g没s Omugondo

Distribution: This acacia can be found in central and north-central Namibia, and it is common in the drier parts in the west, as well as northwestern Botswana and western Angola. Identification: Acacia reficiens is a V-shaped shrub or a small tree with on average has a greater width than height, and the lower branches often trail and sweep the ground. Greenish or orange lichens commonly cover stems, and since the tree is often leafless it displays its burgundy-brown branches. Adult trees have short curved thorns and young individuals have long straight thorns for protection against browsing. When leaves are present they have 2 to 9 pairs of pinnae, each bearing 5 to 11 pairs of very small leaflets. Stipules are spinescent with the spines being hooked or straight. Flowers are found in white balls on slender stalks and are up to 2 to 3 cm long. The red-brown pods are short and flat, marked with fine longitudinal veins. Ecology: A.reficiens occurs on sandy and occasionally brackish soils, on mountain slopes, along washes, depressions and on stony or sandy flats. Leaves, flowers, bark, branches and pods are eaten by livestock and game. Flowering time is mainly from December to January. Uses: The people of the Kaokoveld use the bark to curdle milk, the thorns to pierce ears and the branches for fencing. The gum is also edible, and the bark and roots are used medically. Furthermore burnt seeds are combined with tobacco as a type of snuff. References: Craven P and Marais C (1989), Craven P and Marais C (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Ebenaceae The ebony family

Euclea pseudebenus

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: G & R Common names: English: Black ebony, Wild ebony, Cape ebony Nama/Damara: Tsawis, tsabis Herero: Omuzema

Afrikaans: German:

Ebbeboom, ebbehout, swartebbe, bastereebehout Ebenholzbaum

Distribution: Large parts of Namibia, as well as the rest of west Africa from the northwest Cape to the tropics. Identification: Some trees of this species strongly resemble willows with long dipping branches, while others are small and erect. The dioecious Euclea pseudebenus is thus a shrub to medium sized slender tree, 3 to 10 m in height with characteristic dropping branches. It has leathery long narrow leaves that are slightly curved, and greenish yellow flowers that are small and covered with “wool”. Female flowers are single and male flowers are found in groups of 3-7. The round edible mature fruits are brown to black. Ecology: This tree occurs in the arid areas of stony and sandy deserts, mainly in riverbeds where its 40 m taproots can reach the underground water. E.pseudebenus is evergreen, and the main dispersers are jackals and birds. The flowering time is August to December. It is a protected species in Namibia. Uses: “Pseudebenus” means “false ebony”, and truly this pitch black wood is the hardest wood that can be found in this area, hence valuable for general timber for building and carving. But due to its habitat and scarcity it is unlikely to be commercially exploited. It is also important firewood in Namibia and Namaqualand. The fruits are edible but some might find them quite astringent.

References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005), Henschel J et al (2006) and Mannheimer C et al. (2008) Photos by: Maja Sjöskog


Fabaceae The pea family Subfamily mimosoideae (the acacias)

Faidherbia albida

Photos from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Ana tree, white thorn Nama/Damara: Anas

Afrikaans: German:

Anaboom Weissholz

(Previous name Acacia albida) Distribution: In Namibia this tree occurs mainly in the north-western and central-western parts of the country, but it is also widely distributed throughout Africa; in woodland, wooded grassland and in riverine fringe forest in Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia and tropical Africa. Identification: The bark is rough and light brown to greenish-grey, with new growth and the paired straight thorns being white to ashen. Branches are characteristically zigzag in shape. The creamy flowers, found in spikes up to 12 cm long, are scented. The best way to distinguish Faideherbia albida from other acacias is by their unusual pods, which are bright orange to reddish-brown in color, thick, indehiscent and characteristically curled and twisted. Trees of riverine areas may reach heights of 20 to 30 m, while they are shorter in drier areas. Ecology: In Namibia, different from elsewhere, F.albida is evergreen. The tree grows mainly in dry riverbeds and along the banks of perennial rivers. The leaves and the protein rich pods are the most important fodder in the Kuiseb area for the Topnaar’s goats and cattle. It flowers mostly between March and September, even though occasional flowers can be found throughout the year. Uses: The very hard wood is a good timber, furniture and construction of houses, kraals and fences. Back strips are used as dental floss by the Topnaar. A decoction of the bark has been used to treat diarrhea, and the pods have been used as fish poison. References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja SjÜskog


Moraceae The fig and mulberry family

Ficus sycomorus

Photo from the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Sycamore fig, common cluster fig Nama/Damara: |nomas

Afrikaans: German:

Wildevye, gewone trosvy Sykomore, waterbergfeige

Distribution: Ficus sycomorus occurs naturally in the savannas of southern Arabia and in eastern and southern Africa. It was also introduced in the Middle East centuries ago. Identification: This wild fig grows up to 25-30 m high in southern Africa, and is characteristically wider than it is high. The bark is smooth, yellowish-brown to grey in color and sometimes flakey. The slightly heart shaped leaves, of up to 15 cm in length, have rough, dark green surfaces and exude a milky latex when damaged. The figs are smaller than their cultivated equivalent, 1.5–2.5 cm in diameter, and grow in panicles on the main branches of the trunk. They are covered with soft hair and turn yellow when ripe. Ecology: This fig tree species is one of the largest in southern Africa and probably the most widely distributed. All fig trees have an interesting symbiotic relationship with pollinating wasps, which are needed for the development of fig fruits. All pollinating fig wasps (Agaoninae) are specific to specific figs, and the one for F.sycomorus is called Ceratosolen arabicus. Both wild animals and domestic stock enjoy the fig fruits. Cattle are said to pick the ripest, while even fish eat fallen fruits. Also birds, including rollers and hornbills, enjoy figs. F.sycomorus is a protected species in Namibia. Uses: The figs of F.sycomorus are not as tasty as cultivated figs, and are full of insects (although all figs have male wasps inside them), but they are the largest and sweetest of all the indigenous figs. The figs are eaten fresh or dried, or they can be put in a jar with sugar, which makes a kind of jam. The dried and grounded figs are also used as a substitute for coffee by the Topnaar. Furthermore, a spirit is distilled from the fruits in Zambia and northern Namibia. The latex and a bark decoction are used as a remedy for chest and stomach complaints and coughs in tropical Africa. To increase milk production when breast feeding, women in Botswana drink a bark decoction. References: Galil J and Eisikowitch D (1969), Craven P and Marais C (1989), van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al. (2006) Photo by: Maja SjÜskog


Tiliaceae The jute and linden family

Grewia villosa

Photos from Natab Found in: R Common names: English: Mallow raisin, mallow-leaved cross-berry

Afrikaans:

Malvarosyntjie

Distribution: This tree occurs in the central Namib, up along the northeastern boundaries to Angola, northwestern and northeastern Botswana, as well as the east of South Africa and Mozambique. Identification: The tree can be a highly branched shrub to a small tree up to 4 m in height, and its grey-green leaves, about 12 cm in diameter, are almost circular to heart-shaped. The upper surface of the leaves are rather wrinkled and the lower surface markedly paler with rough, grey, whitish to cream or rusty hairs. Stipules are ovate and up to 10 mm long. Branchlets are covered with yellowish silky hairs and its flowers are also yellow, about 2 cm in diameter, and situated on short stalks. The petals are about half the length of the sepals and both are yellow inside but turning pink very soon. The fruit is a very shallow 4-lobed reddish berry with sparse long silky hairs. Ecology: Grewia villosa can be found in various habitats, but most often are they seen on hill slopes. Many bird species eat the berries/fruits, and livestock and game browse the leaves. The flowering time is from November to April. Uses: The edible berries are very much appreciated even by humans, either for eating as they are or for making an alcoholic beverage. The plant has horticultural potential.

References: Coates Palgrave K (2002), van Wyk B-E and Gericke N (2000), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Capparace The caper family

Maerua schinzii

Photos taken in Kuisebpass and Brandberg Found in: G & R Common names: English: Ringwood tree, bead maerua German: Lorbeerbaum, knotenfruchtbaum

Afrikaans: Herero:

Kringboom, lammerdrol Etengu, omutengu

Distribution: This tree is widely distributed in the north, and all along the eastern parts of the Namib Desert, all the way south to Orange River. Identification: Maerua schinzii is a many-stemmed climbing shrub or a tree that can reach up to 7 m in height, but is fairly often found leaning against or climbing into an acacia tree. The smooth bark is grayish and the oval, oblong or egg-shaped leaves are simple and alternate and when young soft and velvety. Its several flowers open from velvety green buds in September/October and display long and light stamens that give off a sweet pleasant smell. The characteristic fruits consist of long drooping beanlike pods that contract after each seed, resembling a beaded necklace. Ecology: This tree occurs mainly on plains, along dry rivers and on hill slopes. It flowers from September to December, with a peak in October. The leaves are evergreen, and new leaves develop from October to January. The tree is very nutritious and a favorite browse for both livestock and game, as well as ostriches. Young trees often need help protection from “nursery plant� - adult plants that shelters the young trees until they are large enough to withstand the browsing pressure. It is a protected species in Namibia. Uses: The body can be washed with a decoction of the leaves to treat skin disorders and acne and in cases of fever or weakness. The Topnaar use a decoction of the leaves instead of soap to wash themselves. The body is also washed with this decoction when an improvement in the mood is needed. Pounded leaves are sniffed by the Ovambos to relieve headaches. The Bushmen use the root as a tonic, by chewing it, or wearing it around the neck as an amulet. References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Berry C (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Joh Henschel


Tamaricaceae The tamarisk family

Tamarix usneoides

Photos taken in the Kuiseb close to Gobabeb Found in: R Common names: English: Wild tamarisk, dawip, abikwa tree Nama/Damara: Daweb

Afrikaans: Herero:

Abiekwasgeelhout Omungwati

Distribution: From the great Karoo to North Africa, Arabia and Iran. Identification: A shrub or small to medium sized tree up to 5 m tall, usually found in groups with many drooping branches. It has very small scale-like leaves that change color during the day - early morning being green but at midday appearing more grey because of the salt crystals that accumulates on the leaves. These crystals protect the plant from excess transpiration during the heat of the day. An easy identification method is therefore to taste the leaves. The small male and female flowers are usually on separate plants, and the fruit, a capsule, springs open to release tiny seeds, each with a tuft of hairs. Ecology: Tamarix usenoides is common in riverbeds, as it prefers sandy salty soils and is dependent on a sufficient supply of ground water and salts, which are taken care of by its deep tap roots. Additionally it has spreading superficial roots that give rise to buds resulting in new plants. The accumulation of salt prevents other plants from growing in its immediate vicinity and thus reduces potential competitors for nutrients and water. Many insects are associated with this species, and different galls may be seen, resembling small cones. Uses: In Namibia a white inedible salt may be wiped off the leaves, but in North Africa the salt is edible and excreted by nomadic tribes for usage as table salt. The reddish and peppery inner bark provides a treatment for the common cold by either being dried and ground to a snuff for clearing the sinuses, or burned and the smoke is inhaled for chest complaints. The Topnaar drink a decoction of the roots to cure indigestion or diarrhea, and to relieve stomach pains. References: van den Eyden V et al. (1992), Craven P and Marais C (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog


Welwitschiaceae The welwitschia family

Welwitschia mirabilis

Photos from Hope Mine Found in: G Common names: English: Welwitschia

Afrikaans:

Welwitschia

Distribution: Endemic to the Namib Desert, from the Kuiseb River in the south to Mossamedes in Angola in the north, a stretch of about 100 km wide and 1000 km long. Closest colony to Gobabeb is at Hope Mine. Identification: The Welwitschia is referred to as a dwarf tree because of it stem that have been known to reach 2 m above ground and 2 to 3 m below ground before the very large taproot starts. However, most of the time the dark-brown stem is flattened, as a result of early death of the apical bud and subsequent growth occurring around the edge of the central depression. Only two opposite hard and tough leaves are produced during its lifetime, which are torn into ribbons by the wind so that it looks like many leaves. As every gymnosperm the Welwitschia has cones. The male cones are salmon-colored, while the bigger female cones are yellow-green to reddish-brown and on separate plants, secreting a sticky fluid that traps pollen grains. It also has characteristics of angiosperms since the male cones produce stamens; hence the welwitschia is considered to be a link between gymnosperms and angiosperms. Ecology: This is a very long-lived species, probably among the oldest in the world, with an average between 500 and 600 years and one estimation of a large old specimen of 2000 years or more. It occurs in gravelly soils along dry watercourses, but also on rocky ledges and in grassland. The morning fog is important for water, and in dry years the leaves start to die. The individual seed of a Welwitschia faces an uncertain future, since very few seeds have been estimated to germinate although each cone bears about 100 winged seeds. This is because of herbivores, fungal infections and the large amount of water needed for sprouting. These demands on the plant may explain why some colonies of the welwitschias all appear to be of the same age. The plants in the Kuiseb River valley have been under serious threat from domestic animals. Protected species in Namibia, and listed under Cites 2. Uses: This biologically unique species is of great economic importance as a tourist attraction. References: Craven P and Marais C (2000), Coates Palgrave K (2002), Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) and Henschel J et al (2006) Photos by: Maja Sjรถskog and unknown Gobabebian (pictures of cones)


Glossary Anabasine Angiosperm

Teratogenic piperidine alkaloid in Nicotiana spp. Also called neonicotine. A plant whose ovules are enclosed in an ovary; a flowering plant. The angiosperms are the largest phylum of living plants, and the majority of angiosperms belong to two large classes: monocotyledons and eudicotyledons. They are also distinguished by the process of double fertilization. Anther The pollen-bearing part of the stamen. Atropine A poisonous, bitter, crystalline alkaloid, C17 H23NO3, obtained from belladonna and other related plants. Awn A stiff, hair-like projection of the glumes and/or lemmas of some grasses. Bract A modified leaf or leaf like part just below and protecting an inflorescence. Callus The hardened, sometimes sharp base of the floret of certain grasses. Calyx The sepals of a flower considered as a group. Capsule A dry dehiscent fruit that develops from two or more united carpels. Carpel One of the individual female reproductive organs in a flower. A carpel is composed of an ovary, a style, and a stigma, although some flowers have carpels without a distinct style. The term pistil is sometimes used to refer to a single carpel or to several carpels fused together. Compound leaves A leaf whose blade is divided into two or more distinct leaflets. Corolla The petals of a flower considered as a group or unit. Culm The stem of a grass or similar plant. Dagga A relatively nontoxic Southern African herb smoked like tobacco, or a local name for marijuana. Dicot A flowering plant with two embryonic seed leaves or cotyledons that usually appear at germination. Dioecious Having male flowers on one plant and female flowers on another plant of the same species. Filament The stalk that bears the anther in a stamen. Follicle A dry, single-chambered fruit that splits along only one seam to release its seeds, as in larkspur and milkweed. Geophyte A perennial plant with an underground food storage organ, such as a bulb, tuber, corm, or rhizome. The parts of the plant that grow above ground die away during adverse conditions, as in winter or during the dry season, and grow again from buds that are on or within the underground portion when conditions improve. Glume One of the two chaffy bracts at the base of a grass spikelet. Gum Any of various sticky substances that are produced by certain plants and trees and dry into brittle solids soluble in water. Gums typically are colloidal mixtures of polysaccharides and mineral salts. Gymnosperm A plant whose seeds are not enclosed within an ovary, but are exposed on the surface of sporophylls or similar structures. The reproductive structures of many gymnosperms are arranged in cones. Hyoscyamine A poisonous white crystalline alkaloid, C17H23NO3, isometric with atropine and having similar uses but more potent effects. Indehiscent Not splitting open at maturity. Inflorescence A group of flowers growing from a common stem, often in a characteristic arrangement. Also called flower cluster. Isohyet A line on a map connecting places having equal rainfall. Karoo A semiarid plateau. Karoos are terrace shaped and characterized by low scrub vegetation. Keel A pair of united petals in certain flowers, as those of the pea. Koppie A small hill rising up from the African veld. Kraal An enclosure for livestock (or a rural village, typically consisting of huts surrounded by a stockade). Information from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ wherever nothing else is written.


Legume Lemma Lepidoptera Ligule Midrib Monocot Oblong Panicle Papilionaceous Papilla Pedicel Peduncle Perianth Petal

Pinnae Pinnate Pistil Proboscis Pseudo Pseudo-umbel Raceme Red data list Rhizome Ricin Sepal Serrate Sheat Spathe Sphorophyll Spikelet

Stamen

Any of a large number of eudicot plants belonging to the family Fabaceae. Their characteristic fruit is a seedpod. The outer or lower of the two bracts enclosing one of the flowers within a grass spikelet. An order of insects comprising the butterflies, moths, and skippers, that as adults have four membranous wings more or less covered with scales. A straplike structure, such as the corolla of fused petals in a ray flower or a membranous or hairy appendage between the sheath and blade of a grass leaf. The central or main vein of a leaf. Midribs generally protrude from the underside of leaves with pinnate venation. A monocotyledonous flowering plant; the stem grows by deposits on its inside. Having a somewhat elongated form with approximately parallel sides. A branched indeterminate inflorescence in which the branches are racemes, so that each flower has its own stalk (called a pedicel) attached to the branch. Having a bilaterally symmetrical corolla somewhat resembling a butterfly, characteristic of most plants of the pea family, Fabaceae. A minute projection on the surface of a stigma, petal, or leaf. A small stalk supporting a single flower in an inflorescence. The stalk of an inflorescence or a stalk bearing a solitary flower in a oneflowered inflorescence. The outer envelope of a flower, consisting of either the calyx or the corolla, or both. One of the often brightly colored parts of a flower surrounding the reproductive organs. Petals are attached to the receptacle underneath the carpels and stamens and may be separate or joined at their bases. As a group, the petals are called the corolla. A leaflet or primary division of a pinnately compound leaf. Of a leaf shape; featherlike; having leaflets on each side of a common axis. One of the female reproductive organs of a flower, consisting of a single carpel or of several carpels fused together. A long flexible snout or trunk, as of an elephant. False or counterfeit; fake. See “Pseudo” and “Umbel” separately. An inflorescence having stalked flowers arranged singly along an elongated unbranched axis. The World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) list “of species whose future survival in nature hangs in the balance” (Curtis and Mannheimer, 2005). A plant stem that grows horizontally under or along the ground and often sends out roots and shoots. New plants develop from the shoots. Also called rootstock. An extremely poisonous protein extracted from the castor bean (Ricinus communis). Ricin inhibits protein synthesis in cells, and is used as a biochemical reagent and in cancer research. One of the green parts that form the calyx of a flower. Having a saw-toothed edge or margin notched with tooth-like projections. The basal portion of the leaf-blade, which is usually wrapped around the culm to a greater or lesser extent. A leaf like bract that encloses or subtends an inflorescence. A leaf or leaflike organ that bears spores. A small spike, especially one that is part of the characteristic inflorescence of grasses and sedges. A grass spikelet consists of one or more florets (reduced flowers). Each floret contains a pistil and stamens and is enclosed by two bracts, the lemma and the palea. At the base of the entire spikelet are two additional scalelike bracts, the glumes. The male reproductive organ of a flower, consisting of a filament and a pollenbearing anther at its tip.

Information from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ wherever nothing else is written.


Standard Stipule Stomata Tepal Topnaar Umbel Valve Veld Xylem

The large upper petal of the flower of a pea or related plant. One of the usually small, paired parts resembling leaves at the base of a leafstalk in certain plants, such as roses and beans. One of the minute pores in the epidermis of a leaf or stem through which gases and water vapor pass. A division of the perianth of a flower having a virtually indistinguishable calyx and corolla, as in tulips and lilies. Group of Khoesan people who have lived on the banks of the Kuiseb River for many years. A flat-topped or rounded flower cluster in which the individual flower stalks arise from about the same point, as in the geranium, milkweed, onion, and chive. One of the sections into which the wall of a seedpod or other dehiscent fruit splits. Any of the open grazing areas of southern Africa. A tissue in vascular plants that carries water and dissolved minerals from the roots and provides support for softer tissues.

The structure of the grass plant.

Information from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ wherever nothing else is written.


List of plants Species Acacia erioloba Acacia reficiens Acanthosicyos horridus Adenolobus pechuelii Aloe asperifolia Alternanthera pungens Aptosimum spinescens Argemone ochroleuca Arthraerua leubnitziae Blepharis grossa Blepharis obmitrata Boscia foetida Brachiaria glomerata Brownanthus kuntzei Calicorema capitata Centropodia glauca Chloris virgata Citrullus lanatus Cladoraphis spinosa Cleome foliosa Codon royenii Cullen obtusifolia Cyperus marginatus Dactyliandra welwitschii Datura innoxia Datura stramonium Dyerophtum africanum Emilia marlothiana Eragrostis annulata Eragrostis cylindriflora Euclea pseudebenus Euphorbia glanduligera Euphorbia pylloclada Faidherbia albida Ficus sycomorus Forsskaleoa candida Geigeria ornativa Gisekia africana Grewia villosa Helichrysum candolleanum Helichrysum roseo-niveum Heliotropium ovalifolium Hermannia modesta Hexacyrtis dickiana Hoodia currori Indigofera auricoma Jamesbrittenia maxii

Group 1 – Grasses and sedges Group 2 – Leaf succulents Group 3 – Stem succulents

Group 8 8 7 7 2 5 7 5 7 5 7 7 1 2 7 1 1 5 1 5 6 5 1 5 7 7 7 5 1 1 8 5 3 8 8 5 5 5 8 5 5 5 5 4 3 5 7

Species Kissenia capensis Kohautia caespitosa Limeum argute-carinatum Maerua schinzii Mesembryanthemum guerichianum Mollugo ceruiana Monsonia igonarata Monsonia umbellata Moringa ovalifolia Nicotiana glauca Ornithogalum candidum Orthanthera albida Parkinosonia africana Pechuel-Loeschea leubnitziae Pergularia daemia Petalidium setosum Propopis glandulosa Ricinus communis Rogeria longiflora Salsola tuberculata Salvadora persica Sarcocaulon marlothii Sarcocaulon salmoniflorum Selago dinteri Sesamum triphyllum Sesuvium sesuvioides Setaria verticillata Solanum burchellii Solanum nigrum Stipagrostis ciliata Stipagrostis gonatostachys Stipagrostis lutescens Stipagrostis obtusa Stipagrostis sabulicola Tamarix usneoides Tephrosia dregeana Trianthema hereoensis Tribulus terrestris Tribulus zeyheri Trichodesma africanum Tripteris microcarpa Triraphis purpurea Vahlia capensis Welwitschia mirabilis Zygophyllum clavatum Zygophyllum simplex Zygophyllum stapffii

Group 4 – Bulbs Group 5 – Herbs Group 6 – Multi-seasonals

Group 6 5 5 8 2 5 5 5 3 7 4 7 7 7 5 7 7 7 6 7 7 7 7 5 5 2 1 7 5 1 1 1 1 1 8 5 2 5 5 5 6 1 5 8 2 2 2

Group 7 – Shrubs Group 8 - Trees


References Berry C (2000) Trees and shrubs of the Etosha National Park and in northern and central Namibia. Namibia Scientific Society, Windhoek. Bhandari M M and Singh D (1964) Dactyliandra (Hook.f.) Hook.f.: A Cucurbitaceous Genus New to the Indian Flora. Kew Bulletin. Vol. 19, No. 1: 133-138 Bromilow C (1995) Problem plants of South Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria. Burke A (2003a) Wild flowers of the southern Namib. Namibia Scientific Society, Windhoek. Burke A (2003b) Wild flowers of the central Namib. Namibia Scientific Society, Windhoek. Burke A (2005) Wild flowers of the northern Namib. Namibia Scientific Society, Windhoek. Coates Palgrave K (2002) Trees of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town. Craven P and Marais C (1989) Waterberg Flora - footpaths around the camp. Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers (Pty) Ltd. Craven P and Marais C (1992) Damaraland Flora - Spitzkoppe, Brandberg, Twyfelfontein. Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers (Pty) Ltd, Windhoek. Craven P and Marais C (2000) Namib Flora - Swakopmund to the giant welwitschia via Goanikontes. Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers (Pty) Ltd, Windhoek. Curtis B and Mannheimer C (2005) Tree Atlas of Namibia. National Botanical Research Institute, Windhoek Galil J and Eisikowitch D (1969) Note on pollen transport, pollination and protection of ovaries in Ficus sycomorus. New Phytol. Vol. 68:1243-1244. Gibbs Russell G E, Watson L, Koekemoer M, Smook L, Barker N P, Anderson H M, Dallwitz M (1991) Grasses of Southern Africa. National Botanic Gardens, South Africa. Henschel J R, Dausab R, Moser P and Pallett J (2004) !NARA – Fruit for development of the !Khuiseb Topnaar. Namibia Scientific Society, Windhoek. Henschel J R, Mtuleni V, Pallett J and Seely M (2003) The surface-dwelling arthropod fauna of Gobabeb with a description of the long-term pitfall trapping project. Journal of the Namibia Scientific Society. Vol 51: 65-92 Henschel J R, Pallett J, Berry C, Griffin M, Hachfeld B, Makuti O and Seely M (2006) Checklist of the flora and vertebrates of Gobabeb. Journal of the Namibia Scientific Society. Vol 54: 31-56. Hyde M A and Wursten B (2007) Flora of Zimbabwe. Vahlia capensis (L.f.) Thunb. subsp. vulgaris Bridson var. vulgaris. Retrieved in July 2008 from http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=125250. Hyde M A and Wursten B (2008) Flora of Zimbabwe. Helichrysum candolleanum H. Buek. Retrieved in July 2008 from http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=159530. Klaassen E S and Craven P (2003) Checklist of grasses in Namibia. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network (SABONET), Windhoek. Kutschera L, Lichtenegger E, Sobotik M and Haas D (1997) Die Wurzel das neue Organ ihre Bedeutung für das leben von Welwitschia mirabilis und anderen arten der Namib sowie von arten angrenzender gebiete mit Erklärung des Geotropen Wachstums der pflanzen. Eigenverlag, Pflanzensoziologisches Institut, Klagenfurt. le Roux A and Schelpe T (1997) Namaqualand - South African wildflower guide 1. Botanical Society of S.A, in association with National Botanical Institute, Kirstenboch. Majinda R R T, Gray A I, Waigh R D and Waterman P G (1995) A Seco-Olean-18-Ene Triterpene Acid From Vahlia Capensis. Phytochemistry, Vol. 38, No. 2: 461-463 Mannheimer C, Maggs-Kölling G, Kolberg H and Rügheimer S (2008) Wildflowers of the southern Namib. Macmillan Namibia (Pty) Ltd, Windhoek. McGinley M (2008) Namib desert. The Encyclopedia of Earth – Content, Credibility, Community. Retrieved July 2008 from http://www.eoearth.org/article/Namib_desert. Müller M A N (1984) Grasses of South West Africa/Namibia. Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Agriculture and Nature Conservation, Windhoek.


Nel M (1995) Rare and interesting plants of the Namib desert. Veld and Flora. Dec: 111- 113. Robinson M D and Seely M K (1980) Physical and biotic environments of the southern Namib dune ecosystem. Journal of Arid Environments. Vol 3: 183 - 203 Seely M, de Vos M P and Louw G N (1977) Fog imbibition, satellite fauna and unusual leaf structure in a Namib Desert dune plant Trianthema hereoensis. South African Journal of Science, Vol 73:169 – 173. Seely M (2004) The Namib - natural history of an ancient desert. Desert Research Foundation of Namibia, Windhoek. Shaw D (2002) Endemics of Namibia [Electronic PowerPoint presentation]. The Namibian Nature Foundation. Retrieved June 2008 from http://www.nnf.org.na/NNF_docs/Endemics%20poster.ppt. Steenkamp C and Smit P (2002) Namibia’s Nasty Nine – alien invasive species [Poster]. Namibia National Biodiversity Programme, Windhoek. Steyn H P (1984) Southern Kalahari San subsistence ecology: a reconstruction. The South African Archaeological Bulletin. Vol 39, No 140: 117 – 124. Townsend C C (1988) Entry for Alternanthera pungens Kunth [family AMARANTHACEAE]. Aluka Africa. Retrieved July 2008 from http://www.aluka.org/action/showMetadata?doi=10.5555/AL.AP.FLORA.FZ6639&pgs= Van den Eyden V, Vernemmen P and Van Damme P (1992) The ethnobotany of the Topnaar. Universiteit Gent, the Netherlands. van der Walt P and le Riche E (1999) The Kalahari and its plants. Published by the authors, Pretoria. van Oudtshoorn F (1999) Guide to grasses of Southern Africa, Briza Publications, Pretoria. van Rooyen N (2001) Flowering plants of the Kalahari dunes, Ekotrust cc, Pretoria. van Wyk B-E & Gericke N (2000) People's plants-a guide to useful plants of southern Africa. Briza Publication, Pretoria. Weiss E (1989) Guide to plants tolerant of arid and semi-arid conditions - nomenclature and potential uses. Margraf Scientific Publishers, Weikersheim.


Plants around Gobabeb