Pachypodium namaquanum, also known as the elephant’s trunk, belongs to the Apocynaceae or periwinkle family. It is a source of stories and even superstitions among people from a wider area than its habitat near the Gariep; that remote and desolate north-western corner of South Africa.
Imagine yourself walking home alone after dark in this lonely area from a social gathering in the neighbourhood. Not knowing the terrain too well, but with a warm feeling from the good party you have just left. Suddenly there appears this silhouette against the night sky of what looks just like a person only a few yards from the road. Standing dead still and looking at you!
Run or scream should not be options. That's if you give yourself time to contemplate any strategy. A tentative “Good evening, sir!” would yield no response. If you remembered then that you had a torch or could strike a match, you might see that it's neither man nor ghost. To feel that flood of relief that would be almost too much to handle! And end up hugging some of the most vicious thorns in the business.