The elephant's foot is a very drought resistant plant native to arid areas of the southern United States and especially in Southeast Mexico.
Its introduction in Europe is due to the Belgian botanist Henri Guillaume Galeotti (1814-1858), a lover of cactus frequently traveled to Mexico to collect seeds and plants for the Botanical Garden of Brussels. It was yet another lover of cacti, the French Lemaire, who first described the beaucarnea around 1860. The name comes from another Belgian, Beaucarne, who was passionate about plants and was the first to collect flowers of this peculiar species.
The entrance of the elephant’s foot in Europe seems to be due to French-speaking citizens of the nineteenth century. Paris actually welcomed throughout this century various international exhibitions setting up fashion trends within the European upper class, also in gardening. The Duke and Duchess of Montpensier, related to the royal houses of both France and Spain, lived for several years of the 19th century between Paris and Seville, which brought the Andalusian capital developments seen in Paris. They settled many times in the Real Alcázar, with its small court in imitation of the great courts to French taste, they liked the gardens. With the Dukes some gardeners like Lecolant came from France, who helped bring into the city that French taste in its parks and gardens. Lecolant proposals were largely collected by another French gardener who was curator of parks in Paris, Jean Claude Forestier, primarily responsible for the design of one of the most characteristic green spaces today in Seville, the Parque de María Luisa, originated by the donation of part of the duke’s private land to the city.