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Halfmens Tree

Trees of Namibia

Endemic to the southern Namib Desert and the drylands in north western South Africa is the halfmens tree. The halfmens is a spiny, cactus-like tree with a crown of large leaves at the top of a single, tall trunk. They grow in groups that, from a distance, look like people frozen in a laborious motion, are forever inclined northwards, with crinkled leaves at the top, like mops of hair.

This deciduous, succulent tree or shrub can grow to a height of 3.5m. An unfortunate side effect of such a unique looking specimen is that it has become an illegal collector's item. Consequently this species is now an endangered species and are dug up in ignorance, as they rarely survive outside their natural habitat unless in temperature-controlled climatic hothouses.

A legend of the Khoekhoe people tells of their ancestors being driven south by war like tribes. Some turned to look longingly back to their former home, across the Orange River. As they were unhappy and thirsty in a new waterless dry land a sympathetic god eased their suffering by turning them into halfmens trees to relieve their suffering.

Trees of Namibia

  • Windhoek: Windhoek Market
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