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Plant: Olifantspoot (Dioscorea elephantipes)

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Plant: Olifantspoot (Dioscorea elephantipes)

Unread post by Shidzidzii » Wed Mar 08, 2006 3:54 pm

Does anyone know of a plant called an OLIFANTSPOOT ?

My curiosity stems from one of T V BULPIN'S very first guidebooks of the 1960's before the tar road to Pafuri was completed and I have been wondering about this for 30 years.

The picnic site was at a different spot then (I think at that long loop closer to the confluence) but he pointed out (and has a picture) to look out for the OLIFANTSPOOT. The picture was of this fleshy , very thick stem tapering to the top, plant (or tree) .
The closest plant visualy I would say is the Moringa ovalifolia .
Could the Moringa (typically Namibian distribution - sprokieswoud in Etosha ) occur at Pafuri ?

In those days you had to depart Punda Maria before 8am in the morning to do the return trip to Pafuri on gravel roads - it realy was the most remote spot in South Africa . Maybe that is what still gives Pafuri it's magical sense.

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Unread post by bert » Wed Mar 08, 2006 4:18 pm

Have seen the sprokieswoud in Ethosha
Didnt see any plant in camp or on the surrounding loops with
such a plant. Couldnt it be that T.V. Bulpin is revering to baobabs?

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Unread post by DuQues » Wed Mar 08, 2006 5:21 pm

It is a fairly common house plant, at least in Holland, and cats love eating the leaves.

Nolina, Beaucarnea

Common names:
Ponytail Palm, Bottle Palm

For some botanists, Beaucarnea is a synonym of Nolina. The plant usually has only one stem until it reaches 3 feet tall (90 cm), except if the main stem is damaged.

Blooming Habits:
The small creamy white flowers are produced only on older trees. Although they are small, they come in large quantities and form a showy display.

Some photo's
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Re: Olifantspoot at Pafuri

Unread post by Jakkalsbessie » Thu Mar 09, 2006 8:34 am


I know this is very confusing but there are 2 different types of Olifantspoot (Elephants’ foot) in Southern-Africa...

The one is Dioscorea elephantipes (it is called Olifantspoot in Afrikaans)
Concentrating on threatened and endemic species, the SA’s NBI/MSBP (The Millennium Seed Bank Project) seed-scouts have literally gone where no human has gone before. Their efforts have yielded some unexpected results, such as the unearthing of a lost population of the elephant's foot yam Dioscorea elephantipes.

See pictures of this here

And then there is also Adenia pechuelii find pics here

Hope one of these are the one you are looking for??
Although distribution wise it doesn't seem as if any of them could be at Pafuri (maybe the threatened / lost population one :? )
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Unread post by Shidzidzii » Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:08 am

Once again Jakkalsbessie has the answer - Dioscorea elephantipes .

My clue that it was similar to Moringa was totaly incorrect, but that's 30 years of memory loss . Now I do recall the picture as similar to the one on the link.

The disparity of distribution status is probably why T V Bulpin made such a strong point of mentionioning it as speciality at Pafuri . He most likely had seen it in the Cape too . I suppose the possibility exists that a staff member transplanted it .
If not then it was/is an extreme rarity but the Pafuri area does have a very extreme climate in which geophytes (non expert opinion here) thrive . There is also a similarity to the Impala lilies .

Anyway it is something to keep a lookout for when visiting Pafuri.

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