Habitat: Namibia and South Africa
Cultivation: The Fockea is a sturdy plant. It is recommended not to expose it to direct sun during the hottest hours of the day, watering once every 5-6 days and use sufficiently deep vessels.
Curiosity: Some Fockea specimens were used, in the past, for human consumption by the local populations. In particular, the Fockea edulis keeps track of this use also in the name (edulis which means “edible” in Latin). However, it was not an easily accessible food: it always required several hours of cooking to become digestible.
FOCKEA KEY FEATURES
The plants of the genus Fockea are claudiciform succulents from South Africa. The most obvious feature is the large caudex which is located at the base: a woody bulge stem, formed by the union of a dense series of roots on top of the ground, which are able to contain a large amount of water. The color is silver-gray and can take very particular forms; such as dimensions, ranging from a diameter of 30 cm to 60 cm for an adult plant. In some species (as in f. Edulis) the caudex can be eaten, although it requires a long and elaborate cooking to liberate the alkaloids which are present in it. From the caudex a series of climbing or creeping stems come out, which generally have a quite rapid growth. The branches become very long and twist on any lifeline that they meet ; you can prune them in autumn and limit their growth. The leaves are green and oblong; they fall during the autumn and winter and then reappear in summer.
The flowers are small and inconspicuous: whitish or yellowish if female, light green if male. They are dioecious plants, so each plant can only have flowers of a specific genre, and to obtain fertile seeds it is necessary a process of pollination from the male to the female plant.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Fockea is a genre that includes a few species, just 6. The most common is the Fockea edulis, which is very durable. Below there is the complete list:
- Fockea angustifolia
- F. capensis
- F. comaru
- F. edulis (detta anche f. cylindrica)
- F. multiflora
- F. sinuata
TIPS FOR GROWING
The Fockea is a strong plant, easy to grow especially if it is adult.
These are our tips for growing:
- The ideal exposure is partially repaired: it can tolerate full sun but only if the rays do not go directly to the plant during the hottest hours. Alternatively, you can place the plant at half sun.
- The minimum temperature is 7 ° C. In general, however, the ideal is around 15 ° C – 20 ° C.
- Water regularly from March to October with a frequency of once every 5-6 days. The caudex, with its shape, can be a good indicator to check that the plant receives enough water because otherwise it will tend to shrivel.
- The soil should be well draining, but enough rich: for example, you can use a mixture of soil for cacti and peat.
- Use a fertilizer rich in potassium and with little nitrogen, only during the growing season.
- Choose a pot fairly deep to leave the right space to the rich root system of the plant.
The reproduction occurs primarily by seed because cuttings do not root easily. As already mentioned, to have fertile seeds it is necessary a female and a male plant.