Moisture is stored in the thick trunk, while the pale grey or whitish papery bark reflects heat and protects the plant from dehydration. The stiff branches bear three thorns at each node.
Names: A. Hererosesambos; D. & H. ongumbati. The Austrian botanist Friederich Welwitsch named this genus Sesamothamnus, meaning 'shrubby sesame', because the flowers resemble sesame flowers. The sesame family “Pedaliaceae” includes well-known plants such as the devil's claw (Harpagophytum) and Sesamum indicum, the plant from which the sesame seeds we sprinkle over salads, breads and other dishes are obtained as well as the tall wild sesamum stalks quite common along our road sides in the rainy season, bearing several large mauve to pink flowers on a single tall stem and sometimes more than 1 m high. The specific name guerichii honours the geologist Georg Guerich, who from 1885 – 1888 collected plants in former South West Africa.
The Herero sesame-tree usually is a several-stemmed shrub or tree with the trunks arising from a wide common base and can reach a height of 4m.
The stiff, dark grey-green leaves with dense hairs and a white wooly covering grow in clusters on short shoots.
In contrast to the stiff thorny branches the yellow flowers are very elegant, trumpet shaped and up to 7cm long with five lobes folding backwards and a slight swelling at the base.
Erect woody capsules without a well developed point grow to be up to 5cm long and 3cm wide and remain on the tree for a long time before splitting lengthways to release the brown seeds with round papery wings.
Uses: The Himba drink a decoction of the bark when suffering from sexually transmitted diseases.
Cultivation: A few Herero sesame-trees in the gardens of the „Windhoek Country Club“ seem to be doing well. They flower in spring and also bear fruit. Due to its unusual shape, the lovely flowers and interesting fruits it is well worth considering this plant for rock gardens.