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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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! 😀
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.
Crown Tipped Coral Fungus
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?!
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!