Succulent Gardening: The Art of Nature

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Pachypodium namaquanum

Pachypodium namaquanum is a member of the Apocynaceae Family:
Description: Usually single-stemmed succulent plant or small tree, growing extremely slowly. The stem will grow up to 25 centimetres in diameter and the height may range between 1.5 and 2.5 m when fully grown; however, 4 and 5 m specimens have been observed.
Stem: It has a cylindrical trunk, that thicksets at the base and tapering to the top that gives them an unmistakable bottle-like appearance when mature. The stems are mostly unbranched but may become branched from near the base or - where damaged - the trunk produces side-branches that immediately curve back to the vertical, while the very top of the plant is usually bent to the north, in the same way that Copiapoa cinerea Cactaceae) of the Atacama Desert leans to the north.
Spines: The stems are covered with warty tubercles (knob-like projections on the stem), from which sharp spines protrude in a slightly downward direction. The spines are more abundant along the top half of the plant and decrease toward the base where tubercles are more prominent.
Leaves: Undulate simple, obovate to oblong, green-grey and densely velvety on both surfaces. They form a crowded rosette at the apex of the trunk during the growing season. Leaf apexes are tapering or rounded; bases narrowly tapering. The leaf margins are entire and very wavy which is another distinctive characteristic of this succulent. The plants has another flush of leaves after blooming.
Flowers: Tubular velvet-textured, ,up to 50 mm long and 10 mm across at the mouth. They are red on the inside and yellow-green outside, the petals have dark red tips. The Pachypodium namaquanum generally blooms at 6 year old or older, 30 cm tall.<br />
Blooming season: The flowers appear from July to October.
Fruit: Twin pencil-thin tapering seedpods in a V-shape (joined at the base) up to 50 mm long. Short, soft and grey hairs densely cover the fruit.. These are pale brown and split down one side to release the wind-dispersed plumed seeds.
Seeds: About 4 mm long and attached to a tuft of whitish hairs that act as parachutes. Seeds normally ripen from September to December.Origin: Richtersveld ( Northern Cape and southern Namibia. ) in the Gariep Region or Orange River region (the area that has the greatest variety of succulents on earth)
Habitat: Arid, rocky deserts and mountains at altitudes from 300&ndash;900 m above sea level The climate is harsh and the weather can be quite unpredictable. Rainfall here occurs mainly in winter and varies from 50 to 150 mm. Extremely arid conditions are to be found in the rain shadows of certain mountain ranges where the rainfall may be 15mm or less. Thick fog moving inland from the Atlantic coast can add to the precipitation. Temperatures in summer may reach 50&deg;C. Plants seem to favour rocky and stony hill slopes that are exposed to extreme summer conditions particularly heat and wind. Cultivation: Pachypodium namaquanum is a winter grower, it grows from November to April. They seem to be rot-prone under less than ideal conditions and care. Water sparingly and give extra well-drained soil to avoid waterlogged conditions Give it moderate water during this growing period, and minimum to no water the rest of the time. Will take some light frost. Sun Exposure: Light shade to full sun. To make them less prone to rotting, they can be grafted onto P. gaeyi or P. lamairei. Plant grafted grow even faster and flower easily. Propagation: Seeds or cutting: It grows easily from seeds as long as seeds are fresh, Seeds can be sown in the summer. After germination, care should be taken not to overwater as this encourages rot and fungal infestations. Keep plants well ventilated, in good light and dry plants out in the dormant season which is summer (March to Oct). With cuttings the success is not always guaranteed. Cuttings should be taken in the period just before the growing season starts and the wound is treated with a fungicide and then left to dry for at least two weeks. Cuttings are inserted in a well drained medium. Cuttings are kept in a hot well-lit and ventilated area and watered sparingly in the winter months; once a week should be more than enough.

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