Tag Archives: Socotra

Early morning descent

This is my last day on Socotra, and my early morning descent from my 2 days on top of Socotra. During the descent I found so many beautiful events of nature that I wished I had a week here. Up here in the clouds Socotra holds a treasure like no other – I hope to […]

Socotra startrails

I will never forget the 2 days I had on top of Socotra in the Haghier mountains. This is the highest of them all – Skant – looking west. At this time there’s no Milkyway in the west, so the stars are just tiny dots on the sky. Some green airglow is seen here, though. […]

Fringed Rue (Ruta chalepensis) UV

No special patterns appear in UV for this flower!

Fringed Rue (Ruta chalepensis)

I only found this species in one specific location on Skant (or Skand) – the highest point on all of Socotra – and was grateful it was in bloom.

Socotra plant 27

On the highest peaks of Socotra you’ll find magnificent deciduous trees like this one. Some were finished shedding leaves whilst others were in yellows or reds like the temperate autumns. I was definitely entering their very last moments before the season of rest, so this is perhaps more a developing fruit than that of a […]

Helichrysum sphaerocephalum UV

Very dull in UV compared to the many color variations in visible light. Endemic.

Helichrysum sphaerocephalum

Close to the top of Socotra, Skant (or Skand) I found some healthy plants of this species under some trees, which was a relief as all the previous I saw on the way up here were either drooping from lack of water or were browsed by goats. Endemic.

Helichrysum sphaerocephalum

Close to the top of Socotra, Skant (or Skand) I found some healthy plants of this species under some trees, which was a relief as all the previous I saw on the way up here were either drooping from lack of water or were browsed by goats. Endemic.

Oldenlandia balfourii

This plant is so small that it’s very easy to miss! On the field below the weather station of Skant I found many of them growing under trees. Endemic.

Oldenlandia balfourii UV

The yellow center of the flower is dark in UV, and the white petals are also quite dark. In UV this small flower appears prominent against the greyness of the background seen here. Endemic.

Oldenlandia balfourii

This plant has such tiny flowers so they are very easy to miss! On the field below the weather station of Skant I found many of them growing under trees. Endemic.

Socotra plant 27

On the highest peaks of Socotra you’ll find magnificent deciduous trees like this one. Some were finished shedding leaves whilst others were in yellows or reds like the temperate autumns. I was definitely entering their very last moments before the season of rest, so this is perhaps more a developing fruit than that of a […]

Trichodesma microcalyx

The smaller plants on top of Socotra were still in good condition, and thus I found flowers in excellent condition compared to the drooping or even dried ones further down the slopes. Had I come a week or so later, even the plants up here would have been drooping, so I was very grateful! Even […]

Trichodesma microcalyx

The smaller plants on top of Socotra were still in good condition, and thus I found flowers in excellent condition compared to the drooping or even dried ones further down the slopes. Had I come a week or so later, even the plants up here would have been drooping, so I was very grateful! Even […]

Rhus thyrsiflora UV

Not particularly colorful in visible light and even less so in UV – all dark as it is.

Rhus thyrsiflora

I found many of this species on top of Socotra – Skant (or Skand), but few with good flowers as it was nearing the end of the season. Endemic.

Rhus thyrsiflora

I found many of this species on top of Socotra – Skant (or Skand), but few with good flowers as it was nearing the end of the season. Endemic.

Pulicaria lanata UV

Dark center opposed to the all-yellow appearance in visible light – a typical Asteraceae! Endemic.

Pulicaria lanata

The wooly leaves makes this plant easy to identify year round. Endemic.

Pulicaria lanata

As I was getting closer to the highest of the Haghier (or Haggeher) mountains – Skant (or Skand) – I noticed this plant with wooly leaves, but none with flowers, or at least none with fresh flowers. On the very top, on Skant, I did find some that still not past blooming. Again I was […]

Socotra plant 25

A most peculiar plant! I only found this plant with fresh flowers, but unfortunately not with open flowers yet. I found it in very steep terrain close to the top of Skant (Skand). Here the goats seemed to have been unable to destroy the vegetation, so it was exceptionally dense and varied. Could it be […]

Socotra plant 26

A most peculiar inflorescence, but with with very attractive color! I found only two plants with this stage of flowering and fresh leaves seen here – all other were passed bloom. Again the top of Socotra – Skant (or Skand) was the very last range for the season, as on lower altitudes the dry season […]

Socotra plant 26

A most peculiar inflorescence, but with with very attractive color! I found only two plants with this stage of flowering – all other were passed bloom. Again the top of Socotra – Skant (or Skand) was the very last range for the season, as on lower altitudes the dry season was way underway. Please help […]

Socotra plant 25

A most peculiar plant! I only found this plant with fresh flowers, but unfortunately not with open flowers yet. I found it in very steep terrain close to the top of Skant (Skand). Here the goats seemed to have been unable to destroy the vegetation, so it was exceptionally dense and varied. Could it be […]

Socotra plant 25

A most peculiar plant! I only found this plant with fresh flowers, but unfortunately not with open flowers yet. I found it in very steep terrain close to the top of Skant (Skand). Here the goats seemed to have been unable to destroy the vegetation, so it was exceptionally dense and varied. Could it be […]

Helichrysum rosulatum – as a tree!

Contrary to available literature, this is not necessary a cushion plant, unless goats get to them. I found this specimen of epic proportions on a sheer cliff – unacessible to the goats. It was like a tree – perhaps many hundreds of years old. This is a typical example of how goats have transformed many […]

Hypericum sp.

Never in my entire life have I seen hypericum grow as dense and tall shrubs as on top of Socotra (Skant)! I was mesmerized by the abundance of plants and flowers, and also relieved that goats leave at least this species alone. Please help me identify it – leave a comment 🙂 Endemic.

Hypericum sp.

Never in my entire life have I seen hypericum grow as dense and tall shrubs as on top of Socotra (Skant)! I was mesmerized by the abundance of plants and flowers, and also relieved that goats leave at least this species alone. Please help me identify it – leave a comment 🙂 Endemic.

Hypericum sp.

Hypericums are beautiful in UV light, as they are not uniformly colored, and this species is no exception. This species forms impenetrable thickets dotted with flowers, that seem pruned by an expert, but neither goat nor human have anything to to with this amazing growth! Please help me identify it – leave a comment 🙂 […]

Socotra plant 24 UV

Yet another Convolvulaceae with identical color in UV light! I have yet to encounter one, no matter ho many different colors in visible light, that is not the same in UV!

Socotra plant 24

Resembles Convolvulus sarmentosus, but its petals are rounded outwards opposed to this one which are flattened and pointing inwards at the mid-nerve of the petals. Also grows on lower elevations than this (1500 meters elevation), but few are intact as they are eaten by goats and cows. A very small plant, but that I think […]

Socotra plant 24

Resembles Convolvulus sarmentosus, but its petals are rounded outwards opposed to this one which are flattened and pointing inwards at the mid-nerve of the petals. Please help me identify it – leave a comment 🙂

Helichrysum rosulatum UV

The tiny flowers are dark in UV light compared to the mellow cream in visible light. Endemic.

Micromeria remota

I wish I had a week on top of Socotra as there are so incredibly many magnificent plants species and many grow only on socotra! This was the only specimen I could find on Skant (Skand), but with more days I’m certain I would have found magnificent speciemens if I could have climbed where goats […]

Helichrysum rosulatum

With or without flowers, I find this plant really beautiful as it spreads out over the rocks of Socotras highest poeaks. This was one of very few with inflorescences – on the very highest mountain of Socotra – Skant. This is a younger specimen which at first will grow as a cushion plant, but if […]

Helichrysum rosulatum

As the island of Socotra is basically one big goat farm, there are very few plants that are not consumed, or at least stunted by their grazing. Several plant species are venomous while others emit sticky or foul tasting juice. This species has no such defense and is eaten by goats. Thus I was looking […]

Skant dawn, Socotra

In this panorama you can see a clearing, which is an old structure with unknown origin. For generations this structure has been used by Socotris, and I too have camped there and had my meals by the wall. You can see the smoke from the campfire. What’s unusual is that the tiny house (on the […]

Campfire on top of Socotra

On top of Socotra you are open to the elements, which often is fog and mist, which makes it very cold after sunset. This evening was a mix of clouds moving in and clear and dark skies, yet it was very cold, and a campfire made all the difference! Add a pot of tea and […]

Skant twilight, Socotra

What can I say – Socotra has touched me like few places on Earth – I’m spellbound! On this island you’ll experience diversity and uniqueness on so many levels! When driving, trekking, sitting, on your back gazing upon the Milkyway, swimming in the crystal clear ocean, or in a stream seeping out from the countless […]

Top of Socotra

Before I came to Socotra I didn’t know much about the mountains of the interior of the island, and thus made a mistake in assigning one day here. First and foremost I didn’t know it took so many hours to walk to the top, my understanding was that it was a mere 2 hour walk, […]

Skant sunset, Socotra

Skant is the highest point of the Haghier mountains of Socotra – more than 1500 meters high! This is the last leg of my 14 day Socotra journey, and how lucky I was! During the first week of my visit all of the Haghier mountains was shrouded in thick clouds, and now I’m on top […]

Coelocarpum haggierensis

This species grows to the size of small trees, and this one is just a few meters from the highest point of Socotra – Skant (or Skand). Endemic

Coelocarpum haggierensis UV

No surprise in color distribution in UV light compared to visible light for this species – brighter center compared to the darker outer. Endemic.

Coelocarpum haggierensis

This species grows to the size of small trees, and this one is just a few meters from the highest point of Socotra – Skant (or Skand). Endemic.

Hypericum balfourii UV

The flowers of this giant of hypericums are dark in center in UV, compared to the all-yellow in visible light. Endemic.

Hypericum balfourii

When I suddenly stood in front of a hypericum tree, my heart jumped an extra beat and I jumped towards it in awe to make sure I did not hallucinate! This plant is close to 3 meters tall and is not only endangered due to it’s endemism and very limited range but must be of […]

Hypericum balfourii

When I suddenly stood in front of a hypericum tree, my heart jumped an extra beat and I jumped towards it in awe to make sure I did not hallucinate! This plant is close to 3 meters tall and is not only endangered due to it’s endemism and very limited range but must be of […]

Bicyclus anynana socotrana

A bird has likely tried to eat it, and thus a part of the hind wing was lost. This was only one of the species I encountered, so this imperfect specimen must do.

Socotra bottle tree (Adenium obesum ssp. socotranum)

This is the iconic and endemic bottle tree, or desert rose of Socotra – Adenium obesum ssp. socotranum. When you find one in bloom like this one you simply cannot resist taking a closer look. It is an amazing sight to see the lushness and bright colors in a landscape of dryness – it’s like […]

Socotra bottle tree (Adenium obesum ssp. socotranum) UV

What’s interesting with this landscape view of the bottle tree, is that the flowers appear same color in UV as the lichen on the rocks! Endemic.

Socotra bottle tree (Adenium obesum ssp. socotranum)

Many species of plants on Socotra have evolved seed pods like this, and I don’t know why this is a design preferable here, as the content is dispersed by wind in any case.

Socotra bottle tree (Adenium obesum ssp. socotranum)

This species is endemic to Socotra, meaning it grows only on this island! They come in so many shapes and sizes and sometimes resembles works of art – with or without flowers. Despite this it was not easy to find a specimen with a great shape and with flowers, as either I found amazing shapes […]

Caralluma socotrana

During my 14 day stay on Socotra I only found this plant with a seed pod. And in what an exquisite state! The pod has just opened, and the seeds are yet to be dispersed by the wind. Timing is everything, but I think luck is a great part as well 😉

Lavandula nimmoi

To find Lavender on Socotra was not expected, and my mindset was on this being an invasive or at least non-endemic species. But endemic it is! Again most were completely eaten by goats, but I managed to find one that was partly intact, at least one of inflorescences. Endemic.

Lavandula nimmoi

To find Lavender on Socotra was not expected, and my mindset was on this being an invasive or at least non-endemic species. But endemic it is! Again most were completely eaten by goats, but I managed to find one that was partly intact, at least one of inflorescences. Endemic.

Lavandula nimmoi UV

Appears much duller in UV compared to visible light. Endemic.

Socotra starling (Onychognathus frater)

This is the only confirmed photograph of both sexes of the endemic species I got during my visit, as this is a couple (both sexes look the same, opposed to the Somali starling where the female has a grey upper body), and I heard their mellow one-note vocalization, which resembles that of the Eurasian bullfinch. […]

Kalanchoe farinacea UV

Very interesting in UV, as the flowers have more variations in color than in visible light in which it appears uniformly orange.. Endemic.

Socotra sparrow (Passer insularis)

On the beach of Shuab of west Socotra I had the most amazing backdrop and light and I got some amazing photographs of the Somali starling and the Egyptian vulture. This location was also brimming with sparrows, which I didn’t pay much attention to at first as I though they were ordinary house sparrows. Too […]

Somali starling (Onychognathus blythii)

This is the male Somali starling – all-black opposed to the female. He’s observing me from the branches of the endemic dragon blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari) that provides ample food during fruiting season, which is now coming to and end. The fruit is toxic to goats and I suppose many other species that have not […]