I get a closer look at a camel thorn tree

06 April 2013

We hadn’t eaten since our breakfast at the Farmers’ Market, and the excitement of lying in the thorny yellow flowers and finding the termite mound and the social weaver birds’ nest had made us all rather peckish and thirsty. Reggie and I were particularly thirsty, as we had been sitting in the back seat, surreptitiously sharing the delicious olive and herb bread, which was rather salty.

“Are we going to stop anywhere for drinks?” Reggie piped up, after some nudging from me.

“Yes, I know just the place,” said Aunty Lissi. “We’ll stop at the Okahandja Country Lodge.”

The lodge was situated in spacious grounds, with thatched buildings surrounding lush lawns. Water features and wooden bridges were dotted about, and it felt very peaceful.

“What kind of tree is that?” I asked, as we walked underneath a huge tree with strange-looking pods.

Look at these peculiar seed pods - I think they look very pretty!
Look at these peculiar seed pods – I think they look very pretty!

“That, Flat Kathy, is a camel thorn tree,” stated Richard. “The wood is excellent for making a fire, and is often used as wood for a braai or barbecue. Giraffes with their long necks like to eat the succulent leaves right at the top. The Afrikaans word for ‘giraffe’ is ‘kameelperd‘, which is loosely translated as ‘camel-horse’. So the tree isn’t named after camels, but after giraffes.

“But look at those thorns!” I exclaimed. “They look vicious! How do they manage to eat from it?”

“Giraffes have developed specially adapted tongues and lips, so they can eat the leaves without getting hurt,” explained Reggie. “Those seed pods also make nice decorations, and I think cattle and other herbivores like to eat them. And I heard that the seeds can be roasted as a coffee substitute, but I’ve never tried that.”

We made our way to the restaurant, and ordered some cold drinks. People here like to drink Appletiser and Grapetiser, which are fizzy apple and grape drinks – delicious and thirst-quenching. I could get used to drinking them!

(Click on any of the photos below to access the slideshow with captions.)

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