The Desert Island That Looks Like It Came From An Alien Planet

October 23, 2015

Planet Earth is a rich and diverse environment, offering those who like to travel an amazing array of different destinations to sample… from verdant forests and towering mountain ranges to endless tracts of desert or glorious tropical paradises.

And then there’s Socotra…

Bottle tree


Which, to be quite frank, doesn’t look like it belongs on planet Earth at all, does it? It kind of looks instead like a film set from the latest Star Wars blockbuster that was rejected by the director for looking just a bit too alien.

Bottle tree


To kick start the weirdness that is the Island of Socotra we should probably let you know it isn’t even an island; instead it’s an archipelago formed of four islands, Socotra itself then three smaller islands called Abd al Kuri, Samha and Darsa, as well as numerous small rock outcroppings that are uninhabitable by humans but are important nesting sites for sea birds.

Where Socotra really gets strange though is in its flora and fauna, the plant and animal life native to the islands.

A third of the islands plant life, over seven hundred species, can be found nowhere else on Earth! It’s these plants that give the islands their strange and alien look.

Cucumber tree


The reason for this is that Socotra is one of the oldest and most isolated of islands on Earth and has been for over two hundred million years, allowing it’s plant and animal life to evolve in isolation.

Socotra stones


Examples of some of the more exotic plants are the Dragon tree; with its easily recognisable umbrella shaped canopy, whose sap (or so legend has it) was thought to be made from dragon’s blood and has been used as a high grade wood varnish for centuries.

Then there’s the Desert Rose, otherwise known as the Bottle Tree, which we can only say has some… interesting shapes… but does store an enormous amount of water in it’s trunk (well there’s room for it we guess).

It also only produces the giant pink flowers you can see here once every year, around April time.

desert rose


Of the animals found on the island the bat is the only native mammal; all others having been brought there at one time or another by human settlers. Interestingly however the species of cats that are to be found on the island are actually much bigger than varieties found elsewhere, with some reaching up to 27 pounds in weight.

Even it’s sand dunes crop up in weird positions due to the odd winds it’s prone too.

But… Despite all that (or more accurately because of it) the island was recognised as a UNESCO world natural heritage site in July 2008.



Have you ever visited Socotra? Would you?

Do you think it looks like an alien planet?

Let us know in the comments below…