Succulent Gardening: The Art of Nature

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Dendrosicyos socratana

Dendrosicyos socratana has a bulbous trunk and a small crown. It was first described by "Isaac Bayley Balfour" in 1882. A recent molecular phylogenetic analysis of the family Cucurbitaceae found that the Dendrosicyos lineage is about twice as old as the island, and thus seems to be an island relict of a progenitor lineage that went extinct on the mainland. The leaves are nearly round, covered with fine bristles, and slightly toothed. The yellow flowers (3 cm), males and females are present on the same plant for cross pollination. It reproduces only by seed. Fruits (3 x 5 cm) are green, turning brick-red when ripe. Seedlings subjected to overgrazing and regeneration may be compromised over time, except for seedlings protected from goats by Cissus subaphylla. The species is considered vulnerable. In Soqotri, its name is qamhiyn. Contrary to what its region of origin would suggest, Dendrosicyos socotrana responds well to a drench and fertilizer, if the temperature is greater than 20 °C. Individuals in their natural habitat can attain 10 feet/3 m in height. Trunks are succulent, but not bottle-shaped when young. The plant produces flowers when five years old. Dendrosicyos socotranus has a bottle-shaped base of fibrous wood "Pachycaul". The trunk reaches a diameter of up to one meter. Numerous small twigs and branches grow from the stem, the bottle tree growth form making it distinctive. The base consists largely of a Parenchyma. In it are embedded small xylem, strands that are linked to each other anastomosis. These xylem strands have a cambium, and a secondary phloem forms. There is not a consistently active cambium - it will always be sequentially formed on the periphery of a new cambium (cambium successively). Dendrosicyos is the first member of the Cucurbitaceae, in which such meristem has been demonstrated. The leaves are about 10 inches long and wide, its leaf edge being slightly thorny. On the underside of the leaves are trichomes of from two to seven cells, the cells often containing two cystoliths. The epidermal cells are lignified, the surface carries a thick cells however secrete. The flowers occur in the leaf axils. The species is monoecious- male and female flowers on one plant. The flowers are yellowish-orange with long petals and the fruits are ovate. The seeds are about 6 mm. The plant contains Dendrosycin, an iso-cucurbitacinwith an unusual ring formation.

This tree is grown in habitat.

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