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Half human trees

The Nama people tell the legend of the ‘halfmens’ tree. It is said that the ancient Nama people that fled from Namibia southward to this region were transformed into these half human trees. The ‘head’ of these trees always faces the north and is a reminder of those people looking longingly towards the beloved land they left behind.

This rare succulent (Pachypodium namaquanum) is found only in the South African province of the Northern Cape and in southwest Namibia. Growing on the shady, southern slopes of the mountains in the Richtersveld, it is one of the few tall plants able to survive through the seasons. They grow extremely slowly (only 2-3mm per year), but may reach a height of 3m when mature.

From a distance, these trees really look human figures staring toward the north. But science says that the reason they lean over in that direction is to give maximum exposure of their rosette of leaves to the sun during winter.