Botanical name: Pachypodium lealii Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)
Bottle tree is a succulent plant which can be a thorny shrub grown in a pot, or can grow into a small tree up to 6 m tall. The species name derives from the 19th century Portuguese geologist Fernando da Costa Leal, who described the Bottle tree during an exploration in southern Angola. The plant 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 bloom in spring, when the tree is leafless. The white flowers, characteristic of the Oleander family, cluster around the tips of the branches. The Bottle tree is endemic to Namibia and southern Angola where it grows in the semi-desert areas and dry rocky hillsides. 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.
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