The Nama-karoo Section in the Conservatory
A general view of the Nama-karoo section showing Aloe grandidentata, A. broomii (centre) and Aloe dichotoma & Euphorbia avasmontana in the background. The rocks are mainly dolorite and Beaufort shale.
The Nama-karoo region represents the largest part of South Africa. It is situated in the higher inland western part of South Africa. Rainfall is mainly during the summer months, with peaks in autumn and spring and frost in winter. It is not as rich in succulent and bulbous plant species as the succulent karoo parts of Namaqualand, Knersvlakte and Little Karoo regions. The vegetation here is known as Nama-karoo and consists mainly of dwarf shrublands and sparse grassland with small trees and shrubs on the outcrops. Various plants from this region have been introduced to the conservatory. This section has been filled with mainly dolorite and shale rocks from the Fraserburg region and surface limestone from elsewhere.

Prominent plants introduced include many members of the Mesembryanthemaceae. These include the stone plants (Lithops, Titanopsis, Prepodesma & Deilanthe) which resemble pebbles and are difficult to see. Other species grown here include: L. peersii, L. salicola and L. olivacea. The liver plant (Pleiospilos) also looks like a rock, but grows exposed. Its leaves are sometimes ground and mixed with snuff.

The photo on the left shows several dwarf mesembs growing in surface limestone. Aloe claviflora is in the forground and Aloe dichtoma behind.

The doringvygie (Ruschia intricata) is a small shrublet bearing spiny branches and pink flowers during the winter and spring. The kraal aloe (Aloe claviflora) has gray tapering leaves. It starts off from a singe plant which continuously divides and eventually forms a circle, therefore its vernacular name, kraal aloe. Its striking inflorescence, bearing reddish flowers, are produced horizontally. The partridge aloe (A. variegata) grows in small clusters. It has attractive variegated leaves in 3 ranks. It usually grows below shrubs, only exposing its conspicuous red flowers in spring. Aloe broomii is a large, robust, solitary species. It has a dense rosette of short, dark green, rough, spiny leaves and produces an inflorescence as thick as a mans arm. Small yellowish flowers appear in spring. It is named for the anthropologist Dr. Robert Broom. A. grandidentata is common on rocky outcrops and grows in dense stands that are striking during its flowering time.

The oukossie (Gasteria disticha) was introduced from Beaufort West. It has mottled leaves in two ranks and its raceme of pinkish flowers appears in summer. The flowers can be stripped and cooked up in a stew, hence the vernacular name that refers to traditional food. The voetangel (Euphorbia ferox) grows in rounded clusters. It has spiny succulent stems. The northern part of the Nama-karoo (Bushmanland) has elements of dry Savannah & subtropical species such as Euphorbia avasmontana, (in foreground of photo on right), Commiphora gracilifrondosa, Barleria lichtensteiniana and Ficus cordata. Barleria lichtensteinii, or tongklapper, as it is locally named, has interesting fruits which explosively release their seed when moistened. When a dry fruit is placed under the tong it explodes; hence the Afrikaans vernacular name, tongklapper ('tong' = tongue and 'klapper', a cracker).

The quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma) (in background of photo above right) also occurs in this region. The display contains a dried specimen with woodpecker holes in its branches. Other smaller succulent plants grown here include: Anacampseros arachnoides, A. filamentosa and A. subnuda.

Also included here are wild rye (Secale africanum) and wild onion (Allium dregeanum). These two interesting plants from the Roggeveld escarpment occur as relics, as other members of their genera can only be found in the Mediterranean region to the north. The wild rye is a rare endemic. The kambro (Fockea comaru) has a large underground tuber that is edible and tasty. It has a twining stem and small leaves which are difficult to detect among the background.

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