The inside area of the tree revealed that although there were numerous trunks, it seemed to be one organism, with the oldest, thickest trunk appearing to have fallen over many years ago - some of its branches entering into the ground and then growing up out of the ground again.
These trees are known for being salt, wind and fire resistant and are originally from Australia. They are popular in coastal gardens but are invading coastal fynbos, dunes and river valleys as well as being poisonous to mammals.
This ancient animal like tree can be found in a clearing adjacent to the South African Astronomical Observatory buildings - a site that was known, in the early years of the observatory as a place surrounded by marshes and covered in snakes.
'Only one spot seemed to meet all these requirements, a low hill a few miles out on the Flats from Devil's Peak which gloried the name of Slangkop, meaning "snakehill". The name was accurate, as several astronomers would later testify in unequivocal terms. Additionally it was almost devoid of soil, while being surrounded by extensive marshes, down to which a variety of wild animals would occasionally make their way. For years, in fact, there existed a body of folk-lore on the conduct of astonomy in the presence of various unsavoury beasts.'
From The Whisper & the Vision, Donald Fernie, 1976.