Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Euphorbia virosa

Euphorbia virosa by andiwolfe
Euphorbia virosa, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.
The Richtersveld is an arid region in the extreme northwest corner of South Africa and southwest corner of Namibia. There is a transnational park flanking the Orange River.

I visited in September, 2013, while doing my field work in South Africa to search for species of Hyobanche. There were a couple of sightings of Hyobanche from the Richtersveld, so this was a prospecting trip for the area.

The side benefit for me was the opportunity to experience this amazing landscape. The aridity of the region is mind-boggling. The geology is laid bare to the eye since there is such a sparse covering of plants that can survive here. One of those that does well is Euphorbia virosa. Superficially, this resembles a North American cactus, but, cut a slice from a stem and you'll find a very sticky white sap.

I made this photo while doing a climb up into a kloof (ravine) that had a bit of moisture. I was hoping to find Hyobanche glabrata. No luck with that, but I did end up with a souvenir which still shows a scar today. I had a run-in with gravity and collided with a dead branch of a gnarled shrub. Huge contusion, huge abrasion and slice in my thigh. Not a pretty image to think about, but it's one of the things I will remember about the Richtersveld. Of course, I remember so many other wonderful things about this area - the night sky, the birds, the geology, the plants, etc. I would love to visit again....

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