I love the living dead-looking!
|Image: Petr Kosina|
They're named after the fact that their swollen trunk makes them look a lot like a bottle. And, just like all good bottles in the desert, it's full of water to help the Bottle Tree survive the desert-like conditions that tend to prevail in deserts.
It's also full of poison. This is not the kind of thing you want to find in your water bottles, but it does help the Bottle Tree actually keep its water. Which was their plan all along. That's why it's a Bottle Tree and not just a bottle. The poison is so effective that hunters in the region used to smear the sap on their arrows, just to add that extra 'oomph'. And yet no-one calls it a Poison Dart Tree!
|Image: Hans Stieglitz|
However tall a Bottle Tree grows, it'll be almost entirely branchless until the very top. The leaves grow on slender branches and are jealously defended from herbivores by sharp spines.
It's strange to see this thorny hunk of dry, desert-beaten wood emerging from the rocky ground, covered in frilly, white flowers. Then again, who says the dead-looking can't be garlanded with flowers?