Socotra Island, Yemen has unique plants and animals.

Socotra Island, Yemen has unique plants and animals.

Right off the coast of Somalia in the Arabian Sea is an island unlike any other on the face of the planet. Socotra, a territory of Yemen, has a unique place in the world of biodiversity.

 

Given its prolonged geographic isolation, extreme heat, and frequent droughts, Socotra has developed some of the most unique wildlife on Earth.

 

The island, which is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, was surveyed in the 1990’s and found to have almost 700 different endemic species. That puts Socotra in the company of other isolated ecosystems like New Zealand, Hawaii, New Caledonia, and the Galapagos Islands.

 

While virtually all the flora and fauna on Socotra is impressive in its own way, two species in particular are especially eye-catching.

 

The first is the Socotra dragon tree or dragon blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari). The dragon blood tree casts a similar silhouette to a mushroom with a branchless trunk leading to an umbrella-shaped top containing a very dense canopy of upward facing limbs and leaves. Perhaps as striking as the tree’s outer appearance is its namesake “dragon blood” – the dark red sap beneath its bark.

 

The second is the cucumber tree (Dendrosicyos socotranus). Though not as regal looking (or sounding) as the dragon blood tree, the cucumber tree may be even more interesting. Standing up to 10 feet tall with a bulbous trunk and sparse leaves, the cucumber tree looks bizarre but is unmistakably… a tree. However, taxonomically, it falls under Cucurbitaceae – the same family as pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons. It’s the only species in the entire family that grows as a tree.

 

The extreme conditions that created the dragon blood and cucumber trees has manifested in a different way with fauna. While the fauna is extremely endemic (94%), it has resulted in just one type of mammal on the island – bats.

top rated

Editor's Pick

latest articles

  • NY Had More than 10,000 Subway Delays in January 2018
    Featured

    NY Had More than 10,000 Subway Delays in January 2018

    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that there were more than 10,000 subway system delays in January 2018 alone. What’s worse is that the transit officials can’t determine what caused the delays to begin with. The 10,000 delays were just the tip of the iceberg when it…

  • Maryland Now Has the Purple Line Linking Suburbs
    Featured

    Maryland Now Has the Purple Line Linking Suburbs

    Public transport has always been an issue of contention and many municipalities and local governments have a huge problem trying to accommodate everyone in their area of jurisdiction. The good news is that it is always feasible despite the various hurdles they face during the planning, design, and…

  • Shanghai Keolis Introduces Fully Automated Metro Line
    Featured

    Shanghai Keolis Introduces Fully Automated Metro Line

    Shanghai is the third city in China to introduce a fully automated metro line. The unmanned trains run on the Pujiang Line, which increased the total metro network of the city to 672 km. There are six stations along the line with four elevated trains running from Shendu Highway to Huizhen Road.…

  • Free public transport across Estonia
    Featured

    Free public transport across Estonia

    Estonia is set to implement free transport for its residents across much of the country. The free fare scheme to due to begin on July 1st. The country is already a world leader in free public transit after fares on buses, trains and trams in Tallinn were abolished in 2013.