Things had changed a bit after crossing the Oranje Rivier. David had not spent much time in Namibia so the wealth of plants that we had seen in South Africa would have to be found by looking for likely spots, usually suggested by a clearly visible succulent plant, in the hope that there would be smaller stuff of interest around once we gave the area a closer inspection on foot. Where as in South Africa it seemed that at every stop we could guarantee at least half a dozen interesting plants, here we struggled to find any. So why did we go to Fish River Canyon? All Namibia tourist guides claimed that it was a must-see spot and this had been echoed by John Ede and in Alain Buffel’s diaries (in Dutch on a Belgian gardening website). We were here, might never come back, so we might as well take a look.
The fact that we made six stops today and that I took 160 images might suggest that we saw lots of plants. Not so – I seem to have a need to regularly exercise my right index finger by pressing a camera shutter when I’m on a plant trip.
David was the first to call for a Stop (S2594). He had spotted something red in the field, some 30 m from the road, but the high fence seemed too formidable a barrier. Looking through zoomlenses and binoculars we confirmed that there was an Aloe in flower. David was the first to cross the fence. The rest of us decided to wait until easier opportunities presented themselves, which happened 5 minutes later although there were no plants in flower here.
Aloe asperifolia is also known as the Sandpaper Aloe – asperifolia means ‘rough leaf’. It is widespread in central and northern Namibia, so we will see it again. Just like Agave, the upper surface of the leaf has an imprint of the teeth along the edge of the leaf above it.
I photographed an enormous, to 2 m tall, clump of a stick Euphorbia at the next stop – S2595. I have had some nasty allergy reactions to Euphorbia latex, so a zoom lens was a good tool.
As you can see – clear skies, so no rain and it had suddenly turned very hot – around the 30 C mark – why do our plants like such extremes? Actually, that’s why I like succulent plants.
S2597 was at the Fish River Canyon main view-point. We were the only visitors there. The toilets were locked to prevent them being damaged by baboons, or so the sign explained. The Canyon is certainly impressive but it was probably previous visits to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Goosenecks at Mexican Hat, Utah, not to forget Copper Canyon in northern Mexico that had spoiled us for such geological miracles.
Plant wise we saw Aloe dichotoma and A. asperifolia as well as this Euphorbia virosa in impressive setting.
We were beginning to feel like real tourists so S2598 was a leg stretch at the Canyon Roadhouse, a quirky hotel and restaurant with old cars and other assorted scrap metal with local flora as a theme that carried on both inside and outside the building. But this is the Diary of a plant trip Diary and you can find plenty of images of this place by Googling Canyon Roadhouse.
S2599 was prompted by a couple of ostriches, still a novelty in the wild for us. As we had stopped anyway, a stroll around revealed another Euphorbia near the entrance / exit of the Gondwana Canyon Park .
- Any suggestions for a name?
- Also included in S2599 are images (taken by zoomlens from the roadside of the formidable fence) of the red flowering Aloes that David had spotted at the start of the day. These turned out to be different to the Aloe asperifolia that we had seen at S2594, these here had broad, spreading racemes with reddish to orange coloured flowers. David made it over the fence. We didn’t. A look through The Aloes of South Africa suggests that this is the widespread Aloe hereroensis.