Hyaenanche globosa, hyena poison or in Afrikaans the wolwegifboom (wolf poison tree) or just gifboom, gave the Gifberg south of Vanrhynsdorp its name (SA Tree List No. 319).
The genus of Hyaenanche used to be part of the Euphorbiaceae family, but has been moved around 2008 to Picrodendraceae, a family of 24 genera and 80 species of largely subtropical and tropical flowering trees and shrubs. The genus of Hyaenanche is monotypic, holding H. globosa as its only species.
The tree is endemic to the Gifberg on the northern Bokkeveld Escarpment. This region is characterised by arid scrub habitat, exposed to extreme temperatures on rocky sandstone land. The species is considered to be rare early in the twenty first century, although its population is stable in its restricted but protected domain.
The San, whose numerous paintings still adorn rockfaces of the Gifberg, used sap from the fruit of this tree in the mix for their arrow poison.
In the past hyena were also poisoned by farmers of the area, using poison from the tree; a practice that has been discontinued. The poisonous substance contained in the plant, also commonly known as hyena poison (same name as the plant), upon ingestion produces effects similar to strychnine (Coates Palgrave, 2002; www.plantzafrica.com; Wikipedia; http://redlist.sanbi.org).