The Succulent Karoo is a region of south Africa which hosts 1/3 of the world’s succulent plant species — the richest diversity of succulent flora on the planet! The climate here is mild compared to other desert areas, with sparse but reliable rainfall, especially in the winter. The heat of summer is also moderated by fog created by the Benguela Current flowing northward along the coast.

succulent karoo desert biome area south africa arid cactus cacti species biodiversity hotspot

The Encyclopedia of Earth
Environmental Literacy Council
World Wildlife Fund
Plantz Africa

Each video in the Eyewitness natural history series is roughly a half-hour long and describes one facet of the natural world such as birds, volcanoes, elephants, or the seashore. The link below is a 28-minute video from the Eyewitness Official Channel on YouTube, this one being on Insects. Click the link below the video to visit the Eyewitness Channel list of videos.

Eyewitness Offical YouTube Channel videos

The thorns of acacias can grow so large that people use them to make dolls!
How crazy is that?! Awesomely creative! 😀

acacia thorns doll toys natural products seeds fun stuff diy

Acacia Trees
Acacia Trees and Shrubs

The Silk Tassel Bush, Garrya elliptica, is a serpentine endemic plant — meaning it can grow on soils that (for one thing) contain high concentrations of chromium and nickel.
This is truly a heavy metal plant! 😀
It is native to the West coast of the USA — California and Oregon. Check out the links below the pic for closeups of those crazy dangling flowers!

silk tassel bush serpentine endemic plant west coast california wildflower oregon garrya elliptica dangling flowers

San Fran Botanical Garden
Sonoma County Master Gardeners
Dave’s Garden (nice pics!)
California Native Plant Society
Plant Lust

Here’s a little clip from BBC Earth’s hard-to-find series, Wild Caribbean. It features acrobatic and highly intelligent capuchin monkeys in a coastal forest area of Costa Rica.

Caribbean Capuchins

The Ohio Buckeye, Aesculus glabra, is one of a couple dozen different species of horse chestnut tree. It grows up to about 80 feet tall and is native to the Eastern United States. The five-finger (palmately compound) leaves are nearly as famous in its region as its poisonous, shiny brown nuts. Although the nuts cannot be eaten, they have been used to tan leather (high tannin content) or are dried and strung as beads on a necklace. The name “Buckeyes” is given to all inhabitants of the state of Ohio, along with its state university sports teams. There is also a special candy made of peanut butter dipped in chocolate with a little ring of gold left uncovered at the top — made to resemble the buckeye nut. The Ohio Buckeye is the state tree of Ohio, and the name buckeye comes from one of the area’s early explorers being dubbed “Eye of the Buck” by local Native Americans.

ohio buckeye tree nuts leaves garden north america midwest Aesculus glabra horsechestnuts

Virginia Tech
Missouri Botanical Garden
LBJ Wildflower Center
What Tree is it?

What I like best about this tiny bird is its name: Have you ever heard of a gnatwren?! It is not a wren, yet it has the cocked tail and general appearance of one. It IS a type of gnatcatcher, but it doesn’t quite LOOK like one. This unique species is the only one in its genus, yet it has over a dozen subspecies. It lives in Central and South America, with an isolated population along the east coast of Brazil. Read more about this little feathered friend using the links below the pic.

long billed gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus central south america brazil forest tiny birds of the world

Birds of the World
iNaturalist
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Animalia Life

This amazing little European wildflower, Arum maculatum, is not only poisonous, but it is also known by about 100 different names!
Watch this short but informative video — or click the link above — to learn more! 😀

Arum maculatum Video

The lowly wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, grows only 4 to 6 inches tall but features bright white nodding flowers that morph into bright red edible berries, and leaves that give us the familiar wintergreen flavor. A North American wildflower, it grows on the forest floor of most of the eastern half of the United States. Watch the video to learn to identify this plant with ease.

Range map & info
Gardener’s Notes!

Wintergreen

The Pine White Butterfly, Neophasia menapia, is the only white species that features its unique black banding on the outside edge of its upper wings. The lower wings also feature black highlights on the wing veins — but only on the underside! So when you look at it from above, with its wings stretched out, it looks mostly white with black only along the outsides of the upper wings. Yet when it is at rest, with its wings closed, it morphs into a black-and-white beauty! 😀

pine white butterfly west united states canada north america neophasia menapia

Learn more about this unique butterfly species:
Encyclopedia of Life
Art Shapiro’s Butterfly Site
Butterflies & Moths of N Amer
Butterflies of America
Butterflies of Canada
Raising Butterflies

Full length (52 min) documentary from Secrets of Nature:
Return of the Hoopoe

movie video documentary return of the hoopoe bird austria vienna fauna wildlife

I love liverworts! There are almost 9000 different species in the liverwort division of the plant kingdom, Marchantiophyta. Most hug the ground or other substrate they are growing on, but there are many, many varieties to keep the botanical mind guessing. Some day, I would love to create my own little bryophyte garden — tiny plants like mosses and liverworts. What fun! Add a few little frogs or sallies, insects, worms, a misting system… and you have your own little microhabitat! 😀

liverwort marchantiophyta thallus green plant hugging ground

What is a liverwort?
Backyard Nature: Liverworts
Introduction to Liverworts
Liverwort Images

The crown-tipped coral fungus is white to yellowish and about an inch or two tall with little spikey crown-shaped tops on its “branches”. It grows on long-dead wood in North America and is edible, with a peppery taste that tends to disappear when cooked. The video below describes where to find this fungus species, how to identify it, and how to harvest and cook it. The links below the video feature more pics and species information.

Artomyces pyxidatus
Crown-Tipped Coral
Mushroom Expert

Crown Tipped Coral Fungus

The six species of Sun Squirrels (Heliosciurus spp.) live only in sub-Saharan Africa.

heliosciurus sun squirrel africa trees animals fauna small genus

More pics
Gambian Sun Squirrel

The hot springs snake (Thermophis baileyi) lives higher up in the mountains than any other snake in the world!

arkive thermophis baileyi high altitude snake reptile tibet china asia hot springs

Click the pic or links above or below to learn more about
this awesome snake!
Arkive
Excellent article by a snake ecologist

If they COULD read, dragonflies would do it almost 4 times as fast as we can! Their reaction time is so fast, they can fly out to catch something they see before we would even register any sight. Watch the short video below to learn more about the dragonfly’s super sense.

Dragonflies Speed Read?!

Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula)

helogale parvula dwarf mongoose species teeth dentition claws

This little guy in the Mongoose Family (Herpestidae) lives in eastern and southern Africa.

Chimney Swifts cannot perch! Their tiny legs are only good for clinging to vertical surfaces.

chimney swift Chaetura pelagica babies look down inside

Learn more about this unique species:
Cornell’s All About Birds
National Geographic Birds
Audubon Guide to Birds
BioKids Inquiry of Species
ChimneySwifts.org

Vorticella are fun to watch under the microscope!
They are like tiny rosebuds on delicate stalks, that keep contracting in quick little unpredictable spasms, springing down and traveling back. Watch the video to see what I mean!

Vorticella

The American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis, is one of North America’s last birds to get started building a family. In July, when other bird families include fledglings aplenty, the thistles are just starting to bloom. This signals the conspicuous bright yellow male goldfinch and his olive colored mate to start building a nest, constructed mostly of thistle down. When the eggs finally hatch, the thistles have gone to seed — the perfect time to start feeding chicks! Parent goldfinches serve their nestlings a milky cereal-like substance made of thistle seed — the bird world’s closest thing to mammal milk!

Spinus tristis male american goldfinch on thistles birds north america backyard yellow black white

eNatureBlog
Audubon
All About Birds
BirdNote
ARKive