LIFE... THROUGH THE EYES OF A TREE
THE ROCK SPLITTER
The arid, rocky terrain in Goegap Nature Reserve burns in the hot African sun. Vast, sandy plains stretch as far as the eye can see… summer is an unforgiving time of year for the part of the Namaqualand. But not everything in the parched landscape is wilted and bleak, on the edge of a rocky outcrop, an enormous tree boasts with large, leathery, heart-shape leaves. Its pale, gnarled, crinkled roots feeling their way across the massive boulders it’s perched on, some splitting the rocks in order to find water. This is a Namaqua Rock fig, a tree of myth and fantasy.
Summer is drawing to a close, and Rock Splitter’s figs are in their prime. In a time of severe thirst, they are a welcomed delicacy for even the toughest critter. The tree bewitches birds from near and far to come gorge on the fruit in her canopy. Acacia Pied Barbets, Warblers and Bulbuls all visit its branches to get a taste of its bounty. Underneath the Rock Fig, a Rounded Toktokkies makes a meal of all the birds’ droppings. These beetles have a unique means of finding a mate… they knock on the rocky ground to attract them.
As the days get even warmer, a Dassie Rat starts basking in the sun on the rocks close to the fig tree. It lives in the rock crevices between the boulders. It too eats the Rock Fig’s fruit. A Southern Rock Agama also uses the rocks underneath the tree to sunbathe… and late afternoon is the perfect time for these lizards to find a mate, and fight off rivals.
1 x 48 minutes
Like other wild fig species, the Namaqua Rock Fig has an amazing pollination symbiosis. Inside each fig are the tree’s flowers. They can only be pollinated by its own tiny wasp species. Without the wasps, the fig cannot produce viable seed. Minute pollen-laden female wasps fly in from another fig tree’s figs where she has hatched, and enters a fig through a small opening at the tip of the fruit. Once inside she lays an egg in as many flowers as possible… and then dies from exhaustion. Some five weeks after the eggs have been laid, during which time the fig has ripened, wingless male wasps emerge first. They use their strong jaws to cut open the galls around the females and then mate with them. Before the females leave the fig, they actively collect pollen, which they carry to another Rock Fig’s fruit.
Winter in Namaqualand is an extremely cold time of the year. It’s at this time that the heavens open up to soak the parched earth. When it doesn’t rain, the Rock Splitter is engulfed in a thick swirling mass of fog. Both the Fig, and other Namaqualand flora thrive on this moisture… it’s what feeds the desert.
By early spring a kaleidoscope of colours surround the old Namaqua Rock Fig. Nowhere else on earth are the flower more spectacular than in Namaqualand. In the angels between its leaves and stems, pairs of new figs start to emerge. And with its figs beginning to ripen, the Rock Splitter once again begins to lure and bewitch admirers from near and far with its succulent bounty.
The Rock Splitter is part of a series of five films about five of the iconic trees in Southern Africa. Also featured in the series is a Camelthorn in the Kalahari, a Baobab in Zimbabwe, a Yellowwood in the Soutpansberg Mountains, and a Sausage Tree in the Okavango Delta.
Rooted Media produced and filmed Memoirs of Acacia and FrogFoot Filmes and Graphics were in charge for the Post Production of the series.
Rooted Media Contribution:
● Sound Recording
FrogFoot Films and Graphics Contribution:
● Offline Edit
● Online Edit
● Final Delivery