Pachypodium namaquanum must rate as one of the the most sought-after and loveable of all large succulents which has fascinated generations upon generations. Plants are extremely slow growing, around 0.5–1.5 cm per year and can become a hundred years old.
Family: Apocynaceae (oleander or periwinkle family)
Scientific name: Pachypodium namaquanum (Wyley ex Harvey) Welw.
Origin: Richtersveld ( Northern Cape and southern Namibia. ) in the Gariep Region or Orange River region (the area that has the greatest variety of succulents on earth)
Habitat: Arid, rocky deserts and mountains at altitudes from 300–900 m above sea level The climate is harsh and the weather can be quite unpredictable. Rainfall here occurs mainly in winter and varies from 50 to 150 mm. Extremely arid conditions are to be found in the rain shadows of certain mountain ranges where the rainfall may be 15mm or less. Thick fog moving inland from the Atlantic coast can add to the precipitation. Temperatures in summer may reach 50°C. Plants seem to favour rocky and stony hill slopes that are exposed to extreme summer conditions particularly heat and wind
Common Names include: Elephant's trunk ( Eng. ) - Halfmens (Afr.) - Club Foot.
Etymology: The generic name Pachypodium is derived from the Greek word "pachys" meaning "thick" and "podion" which means "foot". The specific name namaquanum refers to the "Namaqualand", a semi-arid region in the northwestern part of South Africa.
| Description: Usually single-stemmed succulent plant or small tree, growing extremely slowly. The stem will grow up to 25 centimetres in diameter and the height may range between 1.5 and 2.5 m when fully grown; however, 4 and 5 m specimens have been observed. |
Stem: It has a cylindrical trunk, that thicksets at the base and tapering to the top that gives them an unmistakable bottle-like appearance when mature. The stems are mostly unbranched but may become branched from near the base or - where damaged - the trunk produces side-branches that immediately curve back to the vertical, while the very top of the plant is usually bent to the north, in the same way that Copiapoa cinerea (Cactaceae) of the Atacama Desert leans to the north.
Spines: The stems are covered with warty tubercles (knob-like projections on the stem), from which sharp spines protrude in a slightly downward direction. The spines are more abundant along the top half of the plant and decrease toward the base where tubercles are more prominent.
Leaves: Undulate simple, obovate to oblong, green-grey and densely velvety on both surfaces. They form a crowded rosette at the apex of the trunk during the growing season. Leaf apexes are tapering or rounded; bases narrowly tapering. The leaf margins are entire and very wavy which is another distinctive characteristic of this succulent. The plants has another flush of leaves after blooming.
Cultivation: Pachypodium namaquanum is a winter grower, it grows from November to April. They seem to be rot-prone under less than ideal conditions and care. Water sparingly and give extra well-drained soil to avoid waterlogged conditions Give it moderate water during this growing period, and minimum to no water the rest of the time. Will take some light frost. Sun Exposure: Light shade to full sun. To make them less prone to rotting, they can be grafted onto P. gaeyi or P. lamairei. Plant grafted grow even faster and flower easily.
Warning: It is known that P. namaquanum also contains poisonous alkaloids as its sap is also used for arrow poisons. The sap can also cause blindness when in contact with the eyes.