F. edulis native to Cape Provinces, KwaZulu-Natal where the plant grows in warmer drier areas, dry savannah and rockery
F. edulis is a caudiciform succulent belonging to the Asclepiadaceae botanical family. The plant has a climbing habit and branches can reach up to 4 m in length. The plant has a woody thick caudex turnip-shape that can reach up to 60 cm in diameter. The main stem is tree-like and the branches are thin, vine and long. The leaves are bright green, oblong and deciduous. Blooming occurs in late spring to early summer. The flowers are small, slightly scented, whitish-green. These plants are dioecious, so a male plant and a female plant are needed to produce seeds. The pollination is carried out by fruit flies. The fruits are grey pods.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 7°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 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°.
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.
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