Namaqualand and Richterveld
View of Namaqualand section showing Aloe dichotoma. Note the gneiss rocks. The large tree in the background is a baobab in another section.

The Namaqualand region is well known for its spectacular spring floral displays. The region includes the winter rainfall western areas of the Northern Cape adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. The climate is semi-arid to arid, the coast is sandy and there are rocky hills towards the escarpment. The coastal parts of this region are cool, but the inland areas are very hot and dry in summer. The annual floral display is caused by dormant annual seeds germinating in mass during autumn, followed by heavy winter rains. The result is a spectacular spring show. The plants disappear over the dry summer period, but survive in seed form, waiting for the next rainy season.

The Richtersveld is situated in a spectacular mountain desert landscape located in the north-western corner of Namaqualand. The dominant geological formation of Namaqualand is granite. The region also represents the world's richest succulent plant concentration and the vegetation is succulent karoo.

Plants from the Namaqualand section of the conservatory originate from various parts in the region and represent typical examples, thus the mesembs forming the core of the collection. These include: Astridia, Cephalophyllum, Enarganthe, Lampranthus, Prenia and Cheiridopsis, all highly colourful when in flower. The dwarf Lithops meyeri can be seen among the quartz gravel. The natarra fig (Ficus ilicina) a rock clinging shrub, have also been introduced, with some trained up the main poles. The halfmens (Pachypodium namaquanum) has cylindric spiny stems and adult plants somewhat resemble a human, hence the Afrikaans vernacular name "halfmens" (mens = human). It has tubular flowers during spring, and is pollinated by hawk moths.

The large quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma) and granite rocks in this section were donated by the Goegab Nature reserve near Springbok. This very decorative tree aloe, which can grow up to 5 m, has forked branches bearing a rounded crown. It has a striking white and yellowish bark and produces bright yellow flowers during winter. In nature it is pollinated by sunbirds. The Khoi and San tribes used the hollowed out branches for arrows. Other noteworthy plants grown here are Aloe pearsonii, a shrubby species from the Richtersveld region.

The Spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) are also well represented here. Euphorbia dregeana has tufts of long thin cylindric stems. The namaqua noors (Euphorbia virosa) are cactus like in appearance with milky latex that is highly irritant to the skin and eyes. The Richtersveld noors (E. hottentota) is a very similar decorative plant.

The whip stick pork bush (Portulacaria armiana) is a shrub of 1 m in height that produces long whip-stick like flowering branches to 4 m in length. It has large gray smooth leaves. Whiteheadia bifolia is a curious bulb with large fleshy leaves and green flowers in winter. It is summer deciduous. The lopertjie (Bowiea gariepensis) is another curious bulb introduced into this section. It has a gray climbing inflorescence with white flowers in winter.

The powder-brush (Haemanthus coccineus) has two large ear-like leaves and becomes leafless in summer. Its conspicuous red powder brush flowers are produced during the autumn. Pelargonium are also well represented with P. paniculatum and P. spinosum, a larger shrubby species.

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