Hoodia (or Hoodia Gordonii) is a South African dwelling plant that the San bushman have used to help endure long hunting expeditiions for generations. Hoodia Gordonii is actually a succulent not to be confused with a cactus. It belongs in the succulent family of Asclepiadaceae along with stapelia, stephanotis and vinca. There are approximately 20 species in the genus of Asclepiadaceae. As it grows it forms stemmed clumps approximately one foot high and bears, pale purple saucer-shaped flowers in shades of red or purple brown.
Hoodia Gordonii is a leafless spiny succulent plant ( not a cactus ) with fleshly finger-like stems. Rows of thorns are present along the stems, bearing flesh coloured flowers. Hoodia Gordonii grows naturally in the harsh desert conditions of South Africa. Now Hoodia Gordonii has been found in the semi-deserts of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, the Republic of South Africa, and now found in some other arid regions of South American Nations such as Chili, Peru and some regions of West China including Gansu, Sichuan and Shanxi.
In the wild Hoodia takes 5-6 years to mature but is now being cultivated in as little as 2 years commercially in sustainable quantities and has become widely known for its effects as an appetite suppressant.
Certainly any hoodia company out there that's selling an honest product is conducting a variety of testing, trying to find out who has counterfeit products and who has real products and trying to inform and educate their own customers about the fact that they have the real thing. But, as always, test results offered by companies who have financial interest in proving their product to be genuine simply don't carry the same weight as independent test results from an unbiased third company.
All over the world, people are trying to buy hoodia, and there just isn't enough supply to go around. The succulent growers have been wiped out. The seed providers have virtually no inventory left. And since hoodia takes more than six years to grow to harvesting height, there's going to continue to be a great hoodia shortage until at least 2010, maybe beyond.