Candle pod tree

Visitors to the Sesriem Canyon area of Namibia might want to look out for candle pod acacias, (Acacia hebecllada) that grow on the small dunes to the north and west of the camp. These large, green, thorny thickets, usually develop from one plant and resemble 'desert islands.' They have been known to have a diameter of 25m or more, and sand that blows against the plants form dune hummocks and new plants develop from underground stolons or runners. Its common name is derived from the light-coloured, hard, woody seed pods, which grow upright on the branches and resemble small candles, and as the pods stay on the plant for several months, they are relatively easy to identify. As with all plant life in the desert, the young shoots, seed pods, leaves and pale yellow flowers attract and are eaten by domestic stock and game. Stomach ailments can be treated by the root bark and an edible gum oozes from its stem.

It goes without saying that harsh and barren desert conditions, make survival in this unique environment, difficult and at times downright impossible. The candle pod plays its part in sustaining life form as these islands of plants in a sea of sand, provide homes and shelter to many animals. Rodents, reptiles and birds, live in these islands, and larger animals such as jackals and hyenas find shelter from the sand and the wind under or beside them. Gemsbok also protect themselves from incessant winds and the many desert sand storms, and they are worth taking the time to investigate.

Plants of Namibia Wildlife of Namibia

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