Family: Asclepiadaceae (Apocynaceae)
Habitat: Southwestern Africa (Namibia, Angola, Botswana)
Cultivation: Be extremely careful with watering: too much water, cause the rot of the plant and could lead to fungal infections. The reproduction is almost done by seeds.
Curiosity: Traditionally used by the Bushmen as a medicine, recently the Hoodia (and in particular the Hoodia gordonii) are proposed as a slimming product, although its effectiveness for this purpose has not been clinically proven yet.
The plants of the Hoodia genus have a certain esternal similarity with cacti, although in reality it is a plant belonging to a totally different family (to Asclepiads, and in particular to the subfamily of Apocynacee). While cacti are from American continent, the Hoodia come from dry southwestern deserts of Africa, from the Kalahari to the less extensive deserts. The habit of these extreme climates allows them to tolerate enormous thermal excursions (from + 50 ° C to -3 ° C) and in the presence of very little water. It is a succulent with a suitable stem to store water and leaves transformed into thorns. It is very long-lived plant (about 15 years in the wild, even 25 in the greenhouse) and can reach considerable size. The height rarely exceeds one meter, but the plant can branch out to reach very respectable weights and widths.
It blooms from August to September after the plant has reached an age of at least five years; flowers, up to 7-8 cm wide, are aesthetically very interesting: wide, flat and formed by five petals joined together, in shades ranging from pink to orange to darker red . Generally arise on the top of each branch. However, they have a bad smell, that reminds rotten meat and that serves to attract pollinators.
Variety and Types
Here it follows a list of species of Hoodia recognized up to now (excluding hybrids and varieties of the same species).
- Hoodia albispina
- H. alstonii
- H. bainii
- H. barklyi
- H. burkei
- H. currorii
- H. dregei
- H. flava
- H. gibbosa
- H. gordonii
- H. grandis
- H. husabensis
- H. juttae
- H. langii
- H. lugardii
- H. macrantha
- H. montana
- H. mossamedensis
- H. officinalis
- H. parviflora
- H. pedicellata
- H. pilifera
- H. pillansii
- H. rosea
- H. ruschii
- H. rustica
- H. triebneri
TIPS FOR GROWING
The hoodia can give great satisfaction to the lovers for the beauty of the plant itself and for the peculiarities of the flowers, even though the smell emanating would not recommend to keep them at the center of a lounge during the flowering period!
These are our cultivation tips:
- Plant native of the hottest deserts on the planet, it prefers full sun but it fits quite well also in different conditions.
- As already said it is extremely resistant either to high temperatures and to low ones: however make sure that the plant is in a well-dried soil if the temperature is close to zero or even falls below. Also make sure that these frosts have short duration.
- Water carefully, apart in spring when the wetting may be more frequent (even one every 3-4 days). Be very careful, however, never wet the ground until it is completely dry to avoid the risk of rot.
- Sandy soil or a standard soil for cacti are also suitable for hoodia.
- The roots of the plant are rather on the surface; so it is better to choose wide and shallow vessels.
The hoodia mainly multiply by seed, which will be purchased on the market. The best time to plant is in March and in April.