Quiver Tree – Aloe dichotoma
Distribution: Strictly limited to areas in the Northern Cape in South Africa and to southern Namibia. Widely cultivated as an ornamental.
Ecosystem: Grows solitary in groves in desert and semi-desert, rocky terrain with some limited cover.
Maximum Age: About 80 years.
Maximum Height and Girth: Up to 30 ft (9 m) in height; about 3 ft (1 m) in diameter.
Also Known As: Kokerboom (Afrikaans), Choje.
Distinctive Characteristics: The striking Quiver Tree is actually a tree aloe; its succulent trunk and branches are soft and pithy, made mostly of water. Trunks have no rings by which to determine the trees’ age. Its long, succulent leaves form rosette clusters, looking like separate aloe plants, and together they form a densely compact canopy pointing upward. It has large plates of flaky, razor-sharp scales on its trunk. After it dies, the remains of the tree are as light as Styrofoam.
Animal Community: Insects, birds, and baboons enjoy the nectar of the flowers. This is one of the trees in which sociable weavers, a bird native to Southern Africa, create their giant communal nests.
Medicine: The roots were traditionally used to treat asthma and tuberculosis.
Food: The flower buds are edible.
Tools and Objects: The name “Quiver Tree” derives from its use by the San people, who traditionally used its lightweight, hollowed-out branches as a container, or quiver, for carrying hunting arrows. Hollow trunks were sometimes used for the storage of food.
Threats: The Quiver Tree is endangered due to drought from global climate change.