Pachypodium namaquanum, commonly known in Afrikaans as the halfmens (half human) or dikvoet (thick foot), has an erect, cylindrical succulent stem, 2 to 5 m in height (SA Tree List No. 649).
The stem surface is covered in warty tubercles topped with downward pointing spines. It has a crown of wavy edged, velvety leaves. The cluster of tubular flowers (winter and spring), is creamy green on the outside and maroon on the inside. The fruit looks like twin hornlets that release seeds with white hairs for wind distribution, said to parachute down sometimes quite far away from the parent plant.
The distribution range of the halfmens is in the far northwest of the northern Cape, near the mouth of the Gariep River, the world’s most prolific centre of endemism for succulent plants.
These plants grow in winter when it is cooler in their dry, rocky desert habitat. That is also the time when they have their deciduous leaves for enhancing photosynthesis, supported smartly by the characteristic northerly inclination of the tapering stems, to absorb most of the available sunlight. (How long to evolve such a feature?) The halfmens is one of but four southern African Pachypodium species.
P. namaquanum is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (http://pza.sanbi.org; http://redlist.sanbi.org).