Family: Apocynaceae or Asclepiadaceae
Habitat: Tropical areas of India, China, and Indo-China
Cultivation: Easy. Plenty of light, scarce watering, mild temperatures and a well-draining substrate will do well.
Curiosity: The name Dischidia comes from Greek and literally means “divided into two parts”.
Dischidia is a genus of plants in the family Apocynaceae. Other classifications, however, place it in the genus Asclepiadaceae.
They are native to Tropical areas of India, China, and Indo-China, where they are widespread in wide ranges of altitudes: from 300 to 1700 meters above the sea level. Their habitat are usually rainforests or deciduous open forests, or even mangrove forests. They can be found also in roadside trees or in
Dischidias are epiphytic plants: this means that they grow out of soil, usually on other trees trunks, managing to survive thanks to their aerial roots that are able to absorb water from air humidity and nutrients from the little mud upon the tree’s bark. In the case of Dischidia, moreover, the roots creep into arboreal ants nests. Some species have even developed a more specific kind of symbiosis, through their leaves modified to create housing or possible food storage places for the ants.
Dischidia’s leaves are usually opposite, rounded and lens-shaped. Some species have bullate leaves. A leaf is called bullate when it has blisters on its surface. This structure is to help the plant to cling to the tree, and the leaves, in this case, become like a hollow root-filled structure. In these species, leaves are actually dimorphic: bullate leaves are present along with normal ones, which are heart-shaped. Other species, instead, develop imbricate leaves, always with the function to cling properly to the tree’s trunk. In botany, imbricate means literally “arranged like roof tiles”, so these leaves are like leaning on each other, forming a more compact structure which, along with their usually rounded, lens-like shapes, creates a really decorative effect that makes these Dischidias really sought after in the ornamental plant commerce.
Dischidia’s flowers are usually star-shaped, inconspicuous and not so outstanding, if compared with the odd but really cute and decorative aspect of their leaves. They are small and solitary and sprout from the axiles of the leaves. Their petals are fused together at the base in a cup-shaped corolla with 5 white lobes. Lobes is the botanical term to define the petals when they are fused together at the base.
Their fruits are follicles: a follicle is a dry unilocular fruit formed from one carpel, containing two or more seeds.
Dischidias are the perfect choice if you seek an ornamental plant easy to grow and that will look extremely decorative, especially if put in a hanging pot.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Here below are some species of Dischidia:
- D. bisetulosa
- D. boholensis
- D. calva
- D. chinensis
- D. cleistantha
- D. clemensiae
- D. cochleata
- D. cominsii
- D. complex
- D. cornuta
- D. crassifolia
- D. crassula
- D. cyclophylla
- D. cylindrica
- D. dasyphylla
- D. deschampsii
- D. digitiformis
- D. dohtii
- D. dolichantha
- D. elmei
- D. ericiflora
- D. formosana
- D. fruticulosa
- D. galactantha
- D. gibbifera
- D. griffithii
- D. hahliana
- D. hellwigii
- D. hirsuta
- D. hirta
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TIPS FOR GROWING
Dischidia is not so difficult to cultivate. Here below are our cultivation tips:
- It requires plenty of light throughout the year, however, avoid direct sunlight especially during the hottest hours of the day.
- It is preferable to keep it at mild temperatures and never below 15 °C, for this reason it is recommended to shelter it during the winter period.
- Water moderately and only when the soil is completely dry. It is enough to water it once a week in spring and summer, and reduce watering to once every two months in autumn and winter.
- Prune the plant lightly to maintain it tidy.
- The best soil is a well draining one, for example formed by a mix of peat and pumice so that water does not stagnate.
- They do not need frequent fertilization, it is sufficient to dilute the fertilizer with watering once a year.
The propagation of Dischidia is usually done through stem cuttings, which have to be put in water or in soil.