Pachypodium lealii

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bottle tree
Pachypodium lealii.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Pachypodium
Species: P. lealii
Binomial name
Pachypodium lealii

The Bottle tree (Pachypodium lealii Welw.) is a species of plant included in the genus Pachypodium. The scientific name derives from the 19th century Portuguese geologist Fernando da Costa Leal, who described the Bottle tree during an exploration in southern Angola.

This species can be either a shrub or a tree up to 6 meters tall and is characterized by the thick bottle-shaped trunk, which is almost branchless until the top. The branches are few and covered by slender thorns up to 30 cm long. Leaves are oblong and are covered with short hairs on both surfaces. The flowers, shown below in detail, are present in the spring, when the tree is leafless. The white flowers, characteristic of the Apocynaceae family, cluster around the tips of the branches.

The Bottle tree is an endemic species of Namibia and southern Angola where it occupies the semi-desert areas and dry bushvelds, usually along rocky hillsides. It is especially common in the Etendeka plateau of NE Namibia, where it can be seen growing in the basalt slopes.

The plant produces a watery latex, rich in toxic alkaloids, used by local populations as arrow poison for hunting. In contact with the eyes this latex can produce blindness.