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Rock corkwood in its natural habitat. Photo: J Fourie


BotSoc logo
Logo design: C Marais
Commiphora leaves
Rock corkwood leaves. Photo: C Mannheimer


Our logo depicts Commiphora saxicola, known as Rock corkwood (E), Rotskanniedood (A), Felsenmyrrhe (D), Omumdomba (H), Toabes (K).

Commiphora saxicola belongs to the myrrh family, Burseraceae, which is well known for its fragrant resin. Commiphora means "gum bearing", while saxicola refers to "rock-loving".

The English common name for the genus alludes to the soft, corky wood, while the Afrikaans name (which means "cannot die") refers to the fact that these plants can withstand extreme conditions, often appearing totally lifeless in times of drought, and then miraculously springing to life again once the rains come. They can also be propagated from truncheons.

The logo was drawn by the late Christine Marais, who had a deep love and understanding of nature, as depicted in the way she was able to capture the essence of all Namibia's plants and animals.

Corkwoods epitomise Namibians, being hardy and resilient. Of the 31 Namibian species, most are found in the Namib Desert or arid south, some extending across our borders into Angola or Namaqualand in South Africa. Seven species have been newly described since 2005. This genus is fairly easy to recognise, even without leaves. Many are pachycauls, low-growing with swollen stems for water-storage, often sprawling across the ground. At least half the species have characteristically peeling bark, revealing a different colour underbark. All species produce an aromatic gum or resin, some of which smell good while others do not. They are deciduous, producing tiny flowers in the spring, which then produce round to oval fruit consisting of a single seed surrounded by a thin fleshy layer. Between the seed and the outer flesh is a covering known as a pseudaril.

For centuries the Himba people of north-western Namibia have used the pleasant-smelling resin of various species as perfume.

Recently the resin of Commiphora wildii (Oak-leaved corkwood (E), Eikeblaarkanniedood (A), Eichenmyrrhe (D), Omumbiri (H)) has been harvested by Himba women on a larger scale. The essential oils (the substance that gives the resin its pleasant smell) are then extracted in a factory in Opuwo, and made into cosmetics locally or exported to cosmetic manufacturers overseas.

Learn more about the uses of Namibia's plants here.

Himba women sorting the harvested omumbiri resin
Himba women sorting the harvested omumbiri resin.
Photo: D Cole


Omumbiri resin after distillation pot
Omumbiri resin after distillation.
Photo: D Cole


Language codes for species common names

Where common names in different languages are given, the following language codes have been used:

E: English
A: Afrikaans
D: Deutch (German)
H: Otjiherero (including Ovahimba)
J: Ju'hoan
K: Khoekhoegowab (Nama/Damara
Kx: Kxoe
O: Oshiwambo (including all dialects)
R: Rumanyo (including Rukwangali, Gciriku and Shambuyu)
S: Silozi
T: Thimbukushu