This little known species has a limited distribution on exposed south-facing limestone slopes and gravelly plains with sparse scrub in the Sanaag region of eastern Somaliland at an altitude of 1350-2000 m.
The plants form compact sturdy shrubs up to 1.5 m high; the branches have 4-6 angled segments 3-4 cm long and 4-7 cm wide, with a continuous horny margin and strong spines to 2.5 cm long.
To be continued.
There are not many plant species that occur from South Africa to the Arabian peninsula, but this is one of them. The photos in this post were taken in the mountainous Shikh area in Somaliland (see first picture). In years gone by I also saw quite a few of these plants in Yemen, but strangely enough I never came across them in South Africa.
The shrubs may be up to 2 m tall. The colour of the calyx is described as green and that of the corolla as dark orange to red, rather different from what we see here. However, as Van Jaarsveld and Koutnik remark in their “Cotyledon and Tylecodon”, the corolla inflation between the calyx lobes is diagnostic, so that should remove any possible doubts about the identification.
Since I returned from Somaliland last week, I have been pondering how to evaluate the trip.
On the one hand it was a once in a life time experience for me and I’m truly grateful to have been able to do this. I saw many plants that were either new to me or I had not seen for many years. Seeing what people in a country like that have to cope with, also helps in appreciating one’s own situation.
On the other hand we ran into a lot of troubles that made the trip less pleasant and useful than expected. Sometimes the permits we had for travelling within the country were not sufficient; at other times the locals were very suspicious of what we were doing and did not want us to be there. In the end we even decided to cut the visit short and return two days earlier to Ethiopia.
Usually one of the main purposes for a trip like this is making as many pictures as is feasible. Unfortunately the camera I use as a rule (Nikon D700), decided to turn a lot of my pictures completely black. So, although the image took up memory space on the card, it showed only black pixels. Fortunately I brought a spare body (D70) with me, so not al was lost, but calling the problem annoying would be somewhat of an understatement!
In spite of all this, I came home with a number of interesting pictures, some of which will appear on this blog in due course.
To wet your appetite I add some pictures of
Senecio pendulus, Aloe grisea, Dorstenia foetida and Dracaena schizantha resp.
For many, many years I have wanted to visit Somalia and see its wonderful succulents. I paid many visits to other countries in the area: Ethiopia and Kenya in the Horn of Africa and Yemen on the Arabian peninsula. But for one reason or the other, Somalia was always out of reach.
In 1991, the part of Somalia that used to be British Somaliland declared itself independent. The fact that it is not recognized as an independent country by the international community makes it a bit complicated to visit and it is therefore a rather unusual destination for tourists.
A while ago an unexpected occasion came up to visit Somaliland, in the company of a few people who have been there before.
And so, the day after tomorrow I will be flying to Addis Ababa, from where we will take a bus and head east to our destination.
I suppose there will not be much time or opportunity to communicate with the rest of the world while being in Somaliland, so don’t expect any posts from me until the beginning of February.