Aloe dichotoma, also known as quiver tree or kokerboom, is a species of aloe indigenous to Southern Africa, specifically in the Northern Cape region of South Africa, and parts of Southern Namibia. Known as Choje to the indigenous San people, the quiver tree gets its name from their practice of hollowing out the tubular branches of Aloe dichotoma to form quivers for their arrows.
As of May 2011[update], the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families recognizes three subspecies, A. dichotoma subsp. dichotoma, A. dichotoma subsp. pillansii and A. dichotoma subsp. ramosissima. These have also been treated as three separate species, A. dichotoma, A. pillansii and A. ramosissima, which are then grouped within the Dracoaloe subsection of the genus Aloe. All inhabit the same arid areas of the Richtersveld and the Namib Desert around the South African-Namibian border. Treated as separate species, the three have been given different ratings on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 'vulnerable' for A. dichotoma, 'critically endangered' for A. pillansii and 'endangered' for A. ramossisima.
The three subspecies can be distinguished. In A. dichotoma subsp. pillansii, the inflorescences hang from below the lowest leaves, rather than growing erect. A. dichotoma subsp. ramosissima is considerably smaller - rarely reaching more than 2 m in height - and assumes a more shrub-like shape.
One of the few examples of spontaneous forests of A. dichotoma is the Quiver Tree Forest, about 14 km north of Keetmanshoop, in Namibia. Another is located in the Northern Cape of South Africa at Gannabos. Modeling of Aloe dichotoma in South Africa and Namibia has contributed to understanding the needs of protected areas in response to climate change. Modelled range declines in this species due to climate change have recently been confirmed by field surveys.
Aloe dichotoma is cultivated in the southwestern United States for use in landscaping. The slow growth rate and relative rarity of the plant make it a particularly expensive specimen.
- Aloe pillansii (syn. for A. dichotoma subsp. pillansii)
- Aloe ramosissima (syn. for A. dichotoma subsp. ramosissima)
- Aloe barberae
- WCSP (2011), World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2011-05-23, search for "Aloe dichotoma"
- Court, D. (2010), Succulent Flora of Southern Africa, Cape Town: Struik Nature, ISBN 978-1-77007-587-0
- Foden, Wendy; Midgley, Guy F.; Hughes, Greg; Bond, William J.; Thuiller, Wilfried; Hoffman, M. Timm; Kaleme, Prince; Underhill, Les G. et al. (2007), "A changing climate is eroding the geographical range of the Namib Desert tree Aloe through population declines and dispersal lags", Diversity and Distributions 13 (5): 645–653, doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2007.00391.x, retrieved 2011-07-16
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