Imagine waking up on the Socotra Island and taking a good look around you (let's say your buddies pulled a prank on you and delivered you there, and lets also assume that you don't have any hangover from abuse of any substances). After a yelp of disbelief, you'd be inclined to think you were transported to another planet - or traveled to another era of Earth's history.
The second would be closer to the truth for this island, which is part of a group of 4 islands, has been geographically isolated from mainland Africa for the last 6 or 7 million years. Like the Galapagos Islands, this island is teeming with 700 extremely rare species of flora and fauna, a full 1/3 of which are endemic, i.e. found nowhere else on Earth.
The name Socotra is derived from a Sanscrit name, meaning "The Island of Bliss"... Is it the beaches? The isolation and quiet? or the strange and crazy botanical allure?
We begin with the dracena cinnibaris or Dragon's Blood Tree, the source of valuable resin for varnishes, dyes, and "cure-all" medicine; also (predictably) used in medieval ritual magic and alchemy -
The branches spread out into the sky and from below appear to hover over the landscape like so many flying saucers... and from above they have a distinct mushroom look:
There is also the Desert Rose (adenium obesium) which looks like nothing so much as a blooming elephant leg. Dorstenia gigas - apparently does not require any soil and sinks roots straight into the bare rock.
Somewhat similar to the weird Dorstenia gigas, is this "bucha" vegetable, found as far north as Croatia. I hope it's not pregnant with anything malignant inside this sack. John Wyndham (with his "The Day of the Triffids") would've loved it. Also found in Socotra's landscape is the ever-strange and extremely rare Cucumber Tree (dendrosicyos socotranum) - and yes, it's related to what's sitting in a pickle jar in your fridge.
Want to see some fairy-tale (and possibly haunted) shipwrecks? There are diving tours available... Hopefully some IMAX crew would film it in all its glory one day.
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