09 July, 2012

Socotra's Amazing Flora

Aloe de Socotra
Rugged. Hot. Along the coast - humid. Inland - dry. That is Socotra. A place where there are some of the rarest and most unique plant life. Reportedly, about three hundred of the archipelago's sparse flora and fauna species are found no where else except here. The Archipelago is sparsely vegetated and is mainly dominated by xenomorphic (drought resistant) plants and trees which are well adapted to the harsh conditions of sun and wind. Luxuriant, greener vegetation is only found: in sheltered valleys and higher mountain areas, especially around the Hagher Mountains; on these higher altitudes are a variety of frankincense trees, endemic Soqotran aloes, and wild pomegranate. The coastal plains and low inland hills are dominated by deciduous shrub-land and succulent trees. The most striking and most notable plant in Soqotra is undoubtedly the dragon’s blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari); such podagrics or swollen-stemmed trees, also include: Dendrosicyos socotranus - which somewhat resembles a small baobab Dorstenia gigas and Adenium obesum socotranum.

Wild aloe vera - above - is easily found on the Island.
Aloe de Socotra (Aloe perryi) is found only in Sogotra and has medicinal properties.
Reportedly, Alexander the Great conquered Socotra in order to have Aloe for medicine.
Aloe has many medicinal properties such as: vitamins, is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, analgesic, antiseptic and has glucosan.
Red flowers (Asclepiadacee caralluma also called Caralluma socotrana) - above - is another spectacular addition to the many colorful flowers found on the Island.
Above - Caralluma socotrana. It is amazing how such beautiful plants can grow and be in such a rugged place like Soqotra.
Socotra is a botanist paradise - very few places on Earth have so many varieties of plants as here.
Many of the Archipelago's plants are unique in appearance.
Many of Socotra's very rare plants are found in several botanists gardens around the world - above and below.
The Archipelago has one of the richest and best preserved tropical flora in the world - making it one of the main and greatest attractions for botanists.
Above - wild pomegranates are abundant on the Island.
On the Island, flowers are in many shapes and colors.
The Dessert Rose (Adenium obesum) - above, the pink colored flower is common and found on bottle-shaped trees.
Pink seems to be the most common color here; but there are many other colors too. Above - the Hibiscus scottii.
Like red and yellow.
Below: the Edithcolea grandis which is endemic to Socotra.
To botanists and any one who is interested in flowers, trees and plants - the Socotran Archipelago ranks very high. But, due to human encroachment - especially over-grazing, lack of proper protective measures and reckless illegal plant collection - mainly by individuals from developed countries - many of the Archipelago's many rare and unique plants are endangered. Climate change is also a major threat to the Island's many trees and plants. With more people visiting the Archipelago, there is also an increasing danger of alien species invading the islands.

+ More photos of Soqotra on Flickr: here and here  
+ More photos of Socotra on Flickriver: here and here