Island's Endangered Trees Seem From Another World

cucumber tree socotra photo

In the Indian Ocean, about 150 miles off the Horn of Africa, lies an archipelago of which the island of Socotra is a part. Unlike most island landforms, Socotra was not formed by volcanic activity, but was once attached to the African mainland. Indeed, for millennia the island's plant-life has been isolated, forced to adapt to the heat and drought conditions afforded by its increasingly remote local. The result of this evolution has led to a multitude of plant species found nowhere else on Earth--which, in turn, makes Socotra seem as if from another planet.

dragons blood trees photo

Of the islands more than 800 species of flora, one-third of them are unique to Socotra--like the umbrella-shaped Dragon's Blood tree, Dracena cinnibaris, and the bulbous Cucumber tree, Dendrosicyos.

In 2008, Socotra was recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a world natural heritage site because of the diversity of its plant and animal species.

cucumber tree photo

Prior to just a few years ago, high winds and rough seas made travel to Socotra nearly impossible between October to May, but an recently built airport has made it easier for biologists and eco-tourists to come and go year-round.

Because of the isolation of the flora and its adaptations to the island's unique climate, scientists consider Socrota's plant-life to be among the most endangered in the world. After one look at these trees, its difficult not to reconsider Dr. Seuss' originallity as well.

dragons blood trees photo

socotra palm photo

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