Pachypodium lealii (bottle tree)
Pachypodium lealii (Photo: Barbara Curtis)
Listed on Appendix II of CITES.
Occurs in arid or semi-arid environments, amongst dry scrubby vegetation on rocky hillsides or outcrops.
As with other members of the Apocynaceae family, the sap of this plant is extremely toxic.
About this species
The bottle tree owes its name to the unusual swollen shape of its trunk. Like other pachypodiums, this succulent stem of the plant acts as a water store that enables it to tolerate the hot, dry environments in which it grows. Its sap is highly toxic.
There are two subspecies of Pachypodium lealii, found more than 1,000 kilometres apart in Africa. They share many characteristics, but also have a different habit of growth. Due to this and the large distance that separates the two subspecies, most botanists treat Pachypodium lealii subsp. saundersii as a separate species, P. saundersii.