Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way


No synonyms are recorded for this cultivar name.


Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way is a nursery cultivar and, thus, doesn’t exist in nature. The original species, Adenium obesum, is instead native to Eastern and northern Africa.


Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way, a succulent shrub or small tree, belongs to the Apocynaceae family. It possesses a pachycaul stem with a stout, swollen basal caudex that becomes more prominent as it matures. A caudex is a evolutionary device used by plants from semi-arid climates to store water and nutrients during the arid season. Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way, in particular, is either evergreen or drought-deciduous, occasionally shedding its leaves during colder spells. Its habit can vary significantly, and many cultivated specimens are hybrids. However, only a few cultivar names hold valid descriptions. Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way is monoecious and self-sterile.
The stem of this variety can reach heights of 2–4 (-6) meters, although it typically remains much smaller. It is fleshy and exhibits a distinctive irregularly swollen base, or caudex, which can measure up to 1 (-2) meter in diameter, with a substantial portion underground. Above ground, the caudex may appear globose to conical, boasting smooth, pale greyish-green to brown bark. In mature plants, a distinct caudex may no longer be discernible, as it transforms into a swollen trunk with a few irregularly thickened branches. These branches are smooth, greyish-green, and may be pubescent at the apex. They tend to grow upright, displaying a tortuous and irregular spacing, though sometimes they may be weak and spreading. The plant contains a copious, sticky, watery or white sap that flows from broken stems, as well as from other plant parts like leaves and roots.
Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way features a fleshy taproot. Its leaves are arranged spirally and clustered towards the tips of the shoots. They are scentless, simple, entire, and range from spathulate to obovate in shape. These leaves are fleshy and possess a leathery texture, being hairless. Their upper surface is shiny, displaying a dark green to bluish-green hue, while the lower surface appears paler and duller in color. They typically measure (3-)5–12(-17) cm in length and (0.5-)1–6(-8) cm in width. The apex of the leaf is rounded, and the base tapers into a very short petiole, usually less than 2 mm in length.
The flowers of Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way are bisexual, regular, and highly showy. They are arranged in more or less dense cymes that rise above the leaves. Tubular in shape, they feature flared lips and measure 2–5 cm in length, with the outer portion spanning 4–6 cm in diameter. These flowers exhibit five petals with wavy or crinkled margins. Their colors range from red through pink to white, often displaying a whitish blush outward of the throat. The sepals are oval and measure 6-12 mm in length, while the pedicel ranges from 5-9 mm in length.
Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way is capable of flowering throughout the year, even producing sporadic blooms in winter. However, it is more profuse in its flowering during the dry periods of Spring and Autumn. Flowers often appear before leaves on deciduous branches, resulting in a crown adorned solely with flowers for a time, until new leaves emerge below them. The flowers remain open for 2-3 days.
The fruit of Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way consists of a twin follicle, approximately 10-22 cm in length, resembling the horns of a steer. These two follicles are united at the base, narrowly oblong, slightly recurved, and range in color from pale grey-green to grey-brown, tapering at both ends. Upon maturation, the follicles split along one side to release the seeds.
The seeds are long, narrow, and cylindric, measuring 10-14 mm in length. They are brown and slightly scabrid, featuring long silky tufts of dirty-white to golden-brown hairs (pappus) at each end. This unique structure allows the seed to be blown along the ground, akin to an axle with two wheels. The cultivar ‘Milky Way’ shares all this features with the wild species Adenium obesum, with one main difference: the variegated leaves. The leaves show, in fact, pale green irregular bends, stripes and mottlings, adorning mainly the external parts of the leaves and the edges. The central part of the leaves is always green, but it shows intriguing shades of paler green, gradually flowing towards the external, yellow parts. These variegation are the results of a genetic mutation that occur in leaves tissue, where some leaf cell loose the capacity to carry out photosynthesis and, along with the green colour. The reasons of these genetic mutations are unknown: certain is, however, that variegated cultivars in general are valued and sought after by succulent enthusiasts for their unique color textures.


Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way, a captivating succulent, hails from arid to semi-arid regions. Cultivated in both humid tropical and semi-tropical areas, it showcases an evergreen disposition in warm, greenhouse or tropical settings. However, in cooler climates, it undergoes a prolonged winter dormancy, shedding its leaves. Come spring, it embarks on a vigorous new growth cycle. Outdoors, it thrives with a xeric watering regimen akin to that of cacti. Provided with optimal conditions, this remarkable plant can grace gardens for centuries.
When it comes to pots and soils, opt for containers with ample drain holes on the sides and bottom. Employ a highly porous potting mix enriched with elements like pumice, vulcanite, perlite, sand, or brick chips, blended with regular soil or a cactus-specific mix. This ensures that the majority of the roots remain below the caudex line, as adeniums seldom utilize the upper third of their soil. Shy away from excessively deep pots, as they may encourage an elongated, carrot-shaped underground caudex. Outdoors, these adaptable plants thrive in a wide array of well-draining soils.
For optimal development of a robust base/trunk and enhanced flowering, provide a fertilizer rich in potassium, phosphorus, and micronutrients, with a moderate nitrogen content. Regular fertilization during active growth stages is recommended. Regarding light exposure, bright filtered light is ideal. However, in areas with less intense sunlight, plants may flourish outdoors in full, unshielded sun. Take heed, though, as the caudex is susceptible to sun scalding. Inadequate light may lead to leggy growth and reduced flowering.
Water your plants in the early morning until the soil is thoroughly moistened, allowing excess water to drain from the pot base. As the active growth season progresses, water as the soil gradually dries out. Avoid allowing the plants to dry out too frequently, as this may trigger early dormancy. Adequate watering is crucial for ensuring vigorous growth and abundant flowering. During winter, exercise restraint in watering.
Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way exhibits high drought tolerance. However, it is sensitive to frost and cannot withstand freezing temperatures (U.S.D.A. Zone: 10a-12). In regions where temperatures routinely dip below 2°C, consider container cultivation for ease of relocation to a sheltered area. Partial defoliation may occur in response to weather fluctuations. If kept indoors, maintain a minimum winter temperature of 10°C. In consistently warm climates, this desert rose may remain evergreen and bloom year-round.
This versatile plant can be shaped into an enchanting bonsai, suitable for various styles. Its relatively swift growth allows a seedling to transform into a rewarding bonsai in as little as five years. Many specimens boast intriguing, large, twisted bases and roots. Through careful wiring and pruning of branches, you can encourage branching and compact growth. Keeping the plant root-bound is one approach to achieving a bonsai form. After the initial three years, elevate the plant at each re-potting, gradually exposing more of the underground caudex and roots.
Occasional pests like aphids, mealybugs, scales, and leaf spots may be encountered. Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way is particularly susceptible to spider mite infestations. It’s crucial to exercise caution, as all parts of this Desert Rose are potentially poisonous. Ensure it’s kept out of reach of children and animals, and handle it with care, using gloves or protective covering for your hands.


Propagation of Adenium obesum cv. Milky Way can be achieved through various methods, including seed germination, grafting, or cuttings.
Seeds serve as a reliable starting point for propagation. Simply place them on the surface of a well-prepared soil mixture for germination. These seeds readily sprout, and the resulting seedlings tend to thrive without the need for special attention. Additionally, these seedlings can be cultivated as rootstock for grafted plants. The extensive range of hybrids is primarily propagated through grafting onto seedling rootstock. Although plants grown from seeds are more likely to develop a swollen caudex at a young age, over time, cuttings may become indistinguishable from seedlings.
Propagation by cutting is another viable option. This involves carefully snipping end shoots and allowing them to air dry for a day or two. Take caution when handling the plant, as its sap is toxic. Subsequently, insert the dried shoots into a pot of moist soil, providing gentle bottom heat. It’s essential to maintain soil moisture throughout the process. The optimal time for either of these propagation methods is during the spring season.


The milky sap of Adenium, known as latex, contains toxic compounds. In regions like Namibia, indigenous peoples harnessed this poisonous substance by using it to coat the tips of their arrows before embarking on hunting expeditions. This practice served as an effective means to immobilize or incapacitate prey. The potency of Adenium’s milk underscores its significance not only in the natural world but also in the historical and cultural contexts of the regions where it is found. This intriguing facet of the plant’s biology highlights the complex interplay between flora and human civilizations throughout history.

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