A leafless tree flowering in the veld reminds of deciduous fruit trees mollycoddled in orchards. A performing peach, plum or apricot tree would never make it where this Pachypodium lealii has cracked rock to establish itself over many years as a dominant presence.
Stem succulence is but one of the enablers in specialised plant adaptations for vegetation to cover the most challenging places on earth. Wherever plants could enter and colonise terrain, animals and people followed. Not all types of animals or people succeed everywhere. Those capable of dealing with desolate environments like the San and Khoi people lived here first.
Today high-tech solutions enable softer, less nature adapted people to enter remote terrain in droves, places where they would not cope for a day if arriving unequipped with gizmos and gadgets of all sorts.
Their visits have added knowledge though, feeding human curiosity and adventurism. Their impact has led to significant deterioration in many delicately balanced or marginal ecologies (Mannheimer and Curtis, (Eds.), 2009; Coates Palgrave, 2002).