Edithcolea grandis

Synonyms:

Ceropegia sordida
Edithcolea sordida

Habitat:

E. grandis Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Socotra, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Yemen where the plant can spread up to 1500 m of altitude. The succulent grows in drought and arid regions.

Description:

E. grandis is the only one species of the genus Edithcolea, belonging to the Apocynaceae botanical family. The plant has a creeping habit, it is perennial and leafless. The stem is quadrangular, thick, fleshy, pale green in color with reddish spots and it is arranged in acute, tooth-shaped tubercles. The succulents can reach up to 15 cm in height and 30 cm in length. The inflorescence is borne at the tip of the plant. The flowers are bisexual and the corolla is penta-lobed, from yellowish to maroon with reddish spots and hairs on the margin of the lobes. The flower gives off an unpleasant smell that resembles the smell of a carcass but which is useful for attracting flies and promoting pollination. The fruits are follicles full of seeds. The seeds are oval shaped and bear a tuft of hairs.

Cultivation:

This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a light shade exposure and it is recommended to avoid direct sun-light. The plant does not like temperatures below 6°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.

Propagation:

Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.

Curiosity:

This genus was named after Edith Cole, who collected some specimens in the Henvenya valley, in northern Somalia. Together with Louisa Lort-Phillips, she picked up a lot of specimens of then still unknown plants during a botanical expedition from erbera to Golis mountains, led by Ethelbert Edward Lort Phillips. These two botanists collected almost 70 unknown species during the expedition!

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