The Alien Beauty of Socotra

Have you ever seen this photo online and wondered if it was real or photoshopped? Believe it or not, this tree actually exists on Earth, despite it looking like a sci-fi movie prop. You’ll only find it on the plateaus of Socotra where it is called the Dragon’s Blood tree. It earned its name from traders who thought its crimson sap was actually the blood of a dragon. It was used as dyes, varnishing and ‘magical’ medicine. Scientists believe it was probably used for medieval ritual magic and alchemy. Seems like a jackpot for all fiction writers!

Socotra is known as “another Galapagos” since its diverse flora and fauna counts up to 800 species, a third of which are endemic to only Socotra. It is located off of the coast of Yemen (near the middle east). In Sanskrit, it translates to “The Island of Bliss.”

This is the Socotran Fig tree which grows against limestone rock. Surprisingly, it doesn’t need any soil to grow. Not to be confused with the Desert Rose tree which looks quite similar. (Though I’ve probably mixed them up myself.) Most plants strive here even though the harsh climate is hot and dry.

Fun Fact! The famous horror author H.P. Lovecraft was rumored to have gotten some inspiration from Socotra’s mysteries, particularly for the Cthulhu myths.

Monsoon rains have carved through the abundant limestone to create these magnificent caves. The cave shown above is known as the Hoq Cave. Year round the cave is about 80 Fahrenheit with humidity reaching 95%. Yikes! Beauty does come with a price after all. The crystal stalagmites and stalactites create breath-taking chandelier-like decorations.

Here is a video I found of the flora and fauna of the land.

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