Pachypodium & Caudiciforms ... 1/4
Pachypodium is a genus of about 20 to 24 species in the large Apocynaceae family (This family consists of over 175
genera and includes such familiar plants as the periwinkle, oleander, Adenium-see below, and frangipani - like all species in this family - Pachypodium's sap is poisonous to stock/humans).
'Pachypodium' means 'thick foot' in Greek, referring to the thickened stem or caudex.
The majority are from Madagascar (m) with some from southern Africa (sa) (see list below).
The usually bottle-shaped trunk is usually solitary and wide, they range from small (eg P. brevicaule), to six to ten metres tall 'trees' (eg P. lamerii and P. geayi) and armed with stout paired spines and topped with a rosette of long leaves (sort of palm-like ... hence the common name 'Madagascar Palm' for some species).
They flower on mature plants, that might be 10 years or more from seed, and like most members of the Apocynaceae family they are large and showy.
They will grow well indoors on a sunny window sill, or outdoors during the warmer summer months with regular watering, or in a greenhouse where temperature and water can be controlled all year round. Some like P. lamerii and P. geayi can grow up to a foot per year.
Give them regular water in the warm summers, as long as it's growing in a free draining soil mix.
Under watering during a warmer growing period can lead to leaf loss, this helps the plant conserve water that might otherwise be lost through stomata in the leaves, and as long as temperatures are good it means a little more water can be given.
Reduce watering as the temperatures and light levels drop in autumn, but do not let the temperature fall too low - they cannot tolerate frost. The whole plant can rot if too wet during the colder winter months, but unfortunately too little water over winter can also cause the roots to dessicate and die. Leaves may yellow and fall off over the dry, colder winters - but this is natural as the plant slows it metabolism down, don't give it excessive water just to keep the leaves on the plant.
Species and varieties
Pachypodium bispinosum (sa)
Pachypodium brevicaule (m)
Pachypodium densiflorum (m)
Pachypodium geayi (m)
Pachypodium lamerei (Madagascar Palm) (m)
Pachypodium namaquanum (Elephant's Trunk)(sa)
Pachypodium (lealii ssp) saundersii (sa)
Pachypodium succulentum (sa)
Check out Pachypodium.org for more info on individual species.
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