Kaokoland Trees: Mountains

In this section we look at the trees and plans in the Kaokoland that is mainly found in the mountains adjacent to the Kunene River.

Some of the highest points in Kaokoland are to be found on the various mountain ranges which are more or less adjacent to the Kunene River and its glacial valley. The densest vegetation occurs on the Zebra Mountains which also boasts the tallest trees in Kaokoland, with species such as Kaoko tree-euphorbia Euphorbia eduardoi, paper-bark euphorbia Euphorbia guerichiana, large-leaved sterculia Sterculia quinqueloba, string-barked corkwood Commiphora discolor, purple-stem corkwood C. multijuga, carrot-tree Steganotaenia araliaceae and Ficus bubu.

Commiphora multijuga

Purple-stem Corkwood – Copyright Wessel Swanepoel

Commiphora discolor

String-barked Corkwood – Copyright Wessel Swanepoel

Euphorbia eduardoi

Kaoko tree-euphorbia – Copyright Wessel Swanepoel

sterculia quinqueloba

Large-leaved Sterculia – Copyright Wessel Swanepoel

The dense undergroath mainly consists of purple-pod terminalia Terminalia prunioides, simple-leaved rhigozum Rhigozum brevispinosum, scented-pod acacia Acacia nilotica and flame-thorn A. ataxacantha.

Vegetation of the Baynes Mountains can be described as mountain sourveld savannah, with species such as African willow Peltophorum africanum, kudu-bush Combretum apiculatum, large-fruited combretum Combretum zeyeri, silver cluster-leaf Terminalia sericea, velvet corkwood Commiphora mollis, Damara corkwood C. crenato-serrata, hairy corkwood C. africana and cork bush Mundulea sericea.

In the gorges and gullies, various wild figs are found like strangler fig Ficus burkei, sycamore fig F. sycomorus, hairy rock-fig F. glumosa, Namaqua rock-fig F. cordata and rock-splitting fig F. ilicina.

The Baynes Mountain range is the only locality in Namibia where the Angola cabbage tree Cussonia angolensis is found. On the cliff faces the rare and endemic cliff-dwelling aloe, Aloe omavandae is conspicuous.

Further to the west, vegetation of the Okakora and Otjihipa Mountains can be described as Commiphora savannah, with Commiphora species in abundance; species such as blue-leaved corkwood Commiphora glaucesens, satin-bark corkwood C. tenuipetiolata, Kunene corkwood C. kuneneana, Swakopmund corkwood C. oblanceolata, Damara corkwood C. crenato-serrata, purple-stem corkwood C. multijuga and the rare Otjihipa corkwood C. otjihipana all occur here. Some other endemics occurring here are the Kunene ceraria Ceraria kuneneana, the exceptionally tall and slender Kaoko maerua Maerua kaokoensis, the Otjihipa sage Aeollanthus haumannii, and the decumbent Kaoko aloe Aloe kaokoensis.  Another endemic cliff-dweller, Aloe corralina and the rare shrub, Euphorbia otjipembana subsp. okakoraensis are only found in the Okakora Mountains.

Commiphora glaucescens, Sesamothamnus leistneri, Commiphora discolor

Blue-leaved corkwood – Copyright Wessel Swannepoel

Euphorbia kaokoensis

‘ohahi’ – Copyright Wessel Swanepoel

Commiphora kuneneana

Kunene Corkwood – Copyright Wessel Swanepoel

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