Kokerboom, Quiver Tree
Asphodelaceae, Aloe Family
Arid, rocky areas
Living Desert Location:
In habitat the copious nectar of the blossoms draws birds and insects as well as baboons that can strip a tree of its flowers in a short time.
Occurring in arid areas of western South Africa and Namibia, Aloe dichotoma are well known sentinels of their stony, desert domain. These sculptured succulents can grow 10-15 ft, sometimes to 20 ft tall, with a base 3 ft in diameter. The branching and re-branching begin about half way up the tapering trunk, earning the plant its specific epithet for this dichotomous pattern. The common name comes from the fact that Bushmen created quivers (kokerboom) for their arrows by hollowing out the soft branches.
The canary-yellow flowers occur in winter and are held close to the blue-green leaves, not nearly as conspicuous as many other species of aloes. The distinctive profile of a mature plant more than compensates for any toned down floral display. Being one of the only tree forms in its arid habitat, Aloe dichotoma oftentimes plays host to huge colonial nests of social weaver birds.
In habitat, the Kokerboom receives rainfall, if at all, in the winter, similar to the Coachella Valley. In the garden, this aloe should be planted in well-drained soil and not over-watered during the summer dormant period.