Jakkalskos

Jakkalskos have their own unique way of getting things done.

  • Jakkalskos is a species of parasitic, leafless plant, native to areas mostly in the south of the African continent.
  • ‘Jakkalskos’ is an Afrikaans term for the plant, which is also known as ‘bobbejaankos’ in Afrikaans, with respective literal meanings ‘jackal food’ and ‘baboon food’ in English.
  • The scientific name of the jakkalskos is Hydnora africana and it is from the family Hydnoraceae, a family of parasitic plants that flower.
  • Jakkalskos plants lack an above ground stem and develop almost entirely in the soil, only bursting forth from the ground to reveal their bloom once ample rain has occurred.
  • When mature, the height of the jakkalskos plant above ground, is simply the size of the flower, which typically grows to be 10 to 15 centimetres (4 to 6 inches) tall.
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A Jakkalskos Flower
Image courtesy of Derek Keats/Flickr
  • The bloom colour of a jakkalskos ranges from orange to pink or red, while the plant’s outer body is brown to black in colour, depending on the age of the flower.
  • Jakkalskos flowers emit a pungent smell, comparable to that of animal waste, which allures its pollinators, mostly carrion and dung beetles.
  • As a parasite, the jakkalskos plant’s thick root-like system will attach itself to the roots of a host plant of the Euphorbia genus, from which it leeches the other plant’s nutrients.
  • Filaments connect the sepals of the jakkalskos flower before it fully opens, and these serve as an obstacle to somewhat trap a beetle inside the flower to cause effective pollination, and once the flower develops and opens, the beetle is released.
  • After flowering, a jakkalskos plant usually produces a fruit in the soil, up to 8 cm (3 inches) in diameter, that contains roughly 20,000 seeds, and the fruit is edible and commonly eaten by some animals including jackals and baboons.
Bibliography:
Grant A, Hydnora Africana Plant Info – What Is Hydnora Africana, 2016, Gardening Know How, http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/hydnora/hydnora-africana-plant-info.htm
Hydnora Africana, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydnora_africana
Hydnora Africana, n.d, Botanical Society of America, http://botany.org/Parasitic_Plants/Hydnora_africana.php
Voigt W, Hydrona Africana, 2008, South African National Biodiversity Institute, http://www.plantzafrica.com/planthij/hydnorafric.htm

 

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Aye-Aye

What does the aye-aye remind you of?

  • Aye-ayes are a species of primate, the largest extant nocturnal one on earth, and they are endemic to rainforests and other forest areas on the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa.
  • The scientific name of the aye-aye is Daubentonia madagascariensis and it is a type of lemur from the family Daubentoniidae, of which it is the only living member.
  • Aye-ayes grow to be 36 to 44 centimetres (14 to 17 inches) in height, with a tail of even greater length, and they weigh from 2 to 2.7 kilograms (4.4 to 6 pounds).
  • The long fingers of aye-ayes are quite fragile and cannot hold much weight, with the third finger being particularly thin and used specifically for feeding purposes.
  • The diet of an aye-aye consists primarily of fruit and grubs, the latter retrieved by tapping trees to find a cavity, then gnawing into the tree with its teeth and collecting prey using its third finger.
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An Aye-Aye
Image courtesy of Frank Vassen/Flickr
  • The colour of the hair of an aye-aye ranges from brown to black, with a partially white to grey head and orange or yellow eyes.
  • Aye-ayes seldom descend to the forest floor, rather resting and foraging among the treetops; and they typically sleep in covered nests during the day, made from leaves and tree branches, though they will generally move to a different nest each day.
  • Aye-ayes are listed as an endangered species, threatened by deforestation as well as locals killing the animal, as they believe the primate can cause misfortune.
  • Sounds produced by aye-ayes include eerie screeches, hisses and the noise ‘hai-hai’; and it is thought that the mammal is named for the latter sound.
  • The aye-aye has been – and still is- compared to a rodent primarily due to its teeth, and it was mistakenly classified as one for a significant time after its discovery.
Bibliography:
Aye-Aye, 2016, A-Z Animals, http://a-z-animals.com/animals/aye-aye-/
Aye-Aye, 2016, National Geographic, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/mammals/aye-aye/
Aye-Aye, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aye-aye
Boucher, E, Daubentonia Madagascariensis, 2007, Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Daubentonia_madagascariensis/

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Goliath Beetle

Goliath beetles are at the top of their game.

  • Goliath beetles are five species of large beetles native to Africa’s tropical habitats.
  • The scientific name of the Goliath beetle is Goliathus and it is from the family Scarabaeidae, the family of scarabs.
  • With an adult length generally ranging from 5 to 11 centimetres (2 to 4.3 inches) and a larvae weight reaching 80 to 100 grams (2.8 to 3.5 ounces), the Goliath beetle is one of the largest extant insects.
  • The diet of the larvae of Goliath beetles consists primarily of decaying wood and vegetation, while the diet of the adults consists of fruit and sap from trees.
  • Goliath beetles can be a black, brown, yellow or white colour, and they generally feature black coloured patterns.
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  • During the dry season, Goliath beetle larvae will pupate to become an adult, and they emerge in the wet season as beetles.
  • Male Goliath beetles boast a horn that is shaped as a ‘y’, a feature absent in females who instead have a head that tapers to a thin edge.
  • Goliath beetles tend to be inactive during cooler temperatures and become mobile on both foot and in flight when temperatures become warmer.
  • Some people keep Goliath beetles as pets, and when captive, the beetles will commonly consume cat or dog food, which is effective in providing the large quantity of protein that the beetles require for breeding purposes.
  • To fly, an adult Goliath beetle can extend its wings from the side of its body, rather than lift the wing shield-flaps up as most beetles do.
Bibliography:
Goliath Beetles, 2010, Australian Museum, http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/goliath-beetles
Goliathus, 2006, Natural Words, http://www.naturalworlds.org/goliathus/
Goliathus, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goliathus
Nelson B, 10 of the Largest Insects in the World, 2016, Mother Nature Network, http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-of-the-largest-insects-in-the-world/goliath-beetle

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Parrot’s Beak

Parrot’s beaks are delicate bursts of vivid colour.

  • Parrot’s beaks are a species of perennial flowering plant, native solely to the Canary Islands, located off the north-west coast of Africa.
  • The scientific name of the parrot’s beak plant is Lotus berthelotii and it is from the family Fabaceae, the family of legumes.
  • The blooms of parrot’s beaks are red to orange coloured and resemble the beak of a parrot.
  • ‘Parrot’s beaks’ are also known as ‘coral gems’, ‘pelican’s beaks’,  ‘lotus vines’, ‘cat claws’, and ‘pigeon beaks’ or by the Spanish for the same name – ‘pico de paloma’.
  • A parrot’s beak plant will generally grow to a height of 15 to 30 centimetres (6 to 12 inches), and it is a creeper, so it tends to spread to a diameter of approximately 61 cm (24 inches) if grown on the ground.
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Parrot’s Beak
Image courtesy of Emma Forsberg/Flickr
  • Parrot’s beaks typically bloom during the late spring and early summer months.
  • Parrot’s beaks grow best in conditions of full sun, and while they can be grown in part shade, they will usually not produce as many flowers.
  • The leaves of parrot’s beaks are small and very narrow, and are a green-grey in colour.
  • Parrot’s beaks are fittingly pollinated by birds, and are extremely rare or extinct in the wild.
  • The parrot’s beak plant is typically grown for ornamental purposes, especially as a ground cover or carpet, and it is also grown in hanging baskets or pots.
Bibliography:
Lotus berthelotii, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_berthelotii
Parrot’s Beak, 2016, Better Homes & Gardens, http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/annual/parrots-beak/
Parrot’s Beak, Coral Gem, Pelican’s Beak, 2016, Dave’s Garden, http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/1250/#b
Plant Profiles: Lotus Berthelotii, 2013, Garden at Heart, http://gardenatheart.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/plant-profiles-lotus-berthelotii.html

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Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop is a shadow of its former self.

  • Kolmanskop is an abandoned diamond mining town, located in the Sperrgebiet National Park, found in the south of the Namib Desert, in Namibia, in southern Africa.
  • The first diamond discovered in the area of Kolmanskop was uncovered in 1908 by railway worker Zacharias Lewala, and this news quickly reached the ears of German miners who then settled at the site.
  • The former residents of Kolmanskop became very wealthy, which resulted in the town being quite luxurious, and it included a school, hospital, pub, casino, ice factory, bowling alley, music hall and one of the first x-ray machines in the southern half of the world.
  • Kolmanskop became an oasis during its peak, with many buildings featuring rich gardens, sustained by water that travelled a distance of 120 kilometres (74.6 miles) by a railway network.
  • In the 1920s, at least 1140 individuals, as well as an ostrich, resided in Kolmanskop, and the town is believed to have had a maximum population of 1300 people in its history.
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Inside a Part of Kolmanskop
Image courtesy of Michiel Van Balen/Flickr
  • Kolmanskop, also known as ‘Kolmannskuppe’ in German, or ‘Coleman’s kop’ or ‘Coleman’s hill’ in English, was named after Johnny Coleman, a transport driver who provided services before the railway was built, after he abandoned his ox cart in the area, during a sandstorm.
  • Kolmanskop is slowly being engulfed by desert sand, yet many buildings still stand.
  • The population of Kolmanskop reduced after World War I, as miners began to journey south to richer and unexplored diamond fields.
  • The final residents left Kolmanskop in 1956, a date that marks the total abandonment of the town.
  • Kolmanskop is a popular destination for tourists and photographers alike, however a permit is required to visit the area, significant rates are charged for photographers, and guided tours are available for a fee.
Bibliography:
About Kolmanskop, n.d, NamibEYE, http://kolmanskuppe.com/about-kolmanskop
Evans B, Swallowed by the desert: Eerie pictures from the ghost town that was abandoned to the sand 50 years ago, 2013, Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2302018/Kolmanskop-Stunning-pictures-Namibias-ghost-town-abandoned-sand-wind-50-years-ago.html
Kolmanskop, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmanskop
Kolmanskop, n.d, Kolmanskop, http://www.kolmanskop.net/

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Flame Lily

If you have a burning passion for someone, give them a flame lily.

  • A flame lily is a species of perennial flower, native to a variety of habitats of south Asia, and south to south-eastern Africa.
  • Flame lilies’ are also known as ‘creeping lilies’, ‘fire lilies’, ‘climbing lilies’, ‘glory lilies’, ‘tiger claws’ and ‘gloriosa lilies’.
  • The scientific name of the flame lily is Gloriosa superba and it is from the family Colchicaceae, a family of plants that flower.
  • As flame lily plants tend to be climbers, they grow upwards or along the ground to 4 metres (13 feet) in length, while the flowers have a diameter of 4.5 to 7 centimetres (1.8 to 2.8 inches).
  • Typically, flame lily flowers are predominantly red or orange, transitioning into a yellow colour towards the centre, and they flower in summer and autumn.
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Flame Lily
Image courtesy of Miltos Gikas/Flickr
  • The consumption of any part of flame lily plants can be fatal, with symptoms including numbness, vomiting, dizziness and breathing difficulties, and it is also toxic for most animals.
  • Flame lilies are considered an invasive weed in many countries outside of their native region, including Australia, a number of Pacific Islands and parts of the United States.
  • Flame lilies has been used in traditional medicine to treat cuts, worms, snakebites, skin issues and other health conditions.
  • By creating both seeds and having rhizomes that multiply, flame lilies are efficient at reproducing, and spreading.
  • Flame lilies grow best in partial shade, and they are commonly grown as cut flowers or for other ornamental purposes.
Bibliography:
Gloriosa Superba, 2016, Queensland Government Weeds of Australia, http://keyserver.lucidcentral.org/weeds/data/media/Html/gloriosa_superba.htm
Gloriosa Superba, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloriosa_superba
Gloriosa Superba (Flame Lily), n.d, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/gloriosa-superba-flame-lily
Gloya Lily (Gloriosa Superba), 2014, NSW Department of Primary Industries, http://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/62

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