Fockea natalensis


Petopentia natalensis
Ischnolepis natalensis
Pentopetia natalensis
Tacazzea natalensis


Fockea natalensis, originating from the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga regions in the Republic of South Africa, thrives mainly along coastal areas. It can be found at altitudes ranging from 50 to 700 meters above sea level.


Fockea natalensis is a perennial climber known for its tuberous rootstock. The tuberous roots are large, globose, and can reach up to 40 cm in diameter or even larger. They are typically found above ground, often segmented and covered in red-brown, finely fissured bark.
The plant features twining and climbing stems that can reach heights of up to 15 meters. These stems are glabrous and exude white latex. Over time, they become woody and may develop a reddish or red-brown, waxy bark.
Its leaves are smooth, glossy, and leathery, with a distinctive purple underside. They measure 8 to 13 cm in length and 2 to 4 cm in width, typically taking on a broadly ovate shape with a rounded to cordate base. The leaves also have a prominent purple midrib and petioles that range from 1 to 5 cm in length.
Fockea natalensis produces greenish-yellow flowers, approximately 3 cm in diameter, with green to brownish-purple, narrowly triangular corolla lobes. These lobes have acute apices and a rather thick texture, accompanied by a single erect filiform corona appendage at the base. The cone-shaped gynoecium extends above the corolla. This species exhibits granular pollen, in contrast to the pollinia found in other plants of the subfamily Periplocoideae.
It’s worth noting that plants in the trade labeled as Fockea tugelensis or Fockea natalensis are often misidentified and are actually Petopentia natalensis. Petopentia shares closer botanical relationships with Raphionacme and its allies within the subfamily Periplocoideae.


Fockea natalensis is a rewarding endeavor. This climbing plant demonstrates remarkable resilience to both extreme heat and cold, making it a versatile addition to any garden. However, it’s important to provide adequate support for its vines, which can reach up to 7 meters. When in bloom, Fockea natalensis presents an intriguing spectacle.
In terms of growth rate, cultivated plants usually extend 1.5-2 meters, either twining around supports or hanging down gracefully from suspended pots. While wild specimens can reach lengths of up to 15 meters, those grown in cultivation tend to have more controlled growth.
For potting, a well-draining and porous medium is essential. This allows ample air circulation around the roots. A suitable mixture may include peat, fibrous soil, sand, and coarse drainage material like perlite or pumice. This plant benefits from a moisture-retentive medium.
When it comes to fertilization, a balanced diet with all necessary micro nutrients and trace elements is crucial. Keep in mind that micronutrient deficiencies may arise in high-pH soil.
Watering should be regular in summer, but overwatering should be avoided. Allowing the plant to dry out between waterings is advisable, as its tubers store water efficiently. In winter, reduce watering significantly, ensuring good airflow to prevent issues like swelling and untidy growth.
Fockea natalensis thrives in bright light but can tolerate lower light levels. However, extended exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided to prevent sunburn. In strong light, the plant may develop a bronzed hue, encouraging flowering and robust leaf production.
In terms of hardiness, Fockea natalensis prefers temperatures between 10-30°C and can tolerate a minimum of 4°C. Adjust care routines according to the seasons, providing more water in spring, tolerating heavy rain in summer, and ensuring dry conditions in winter.
Maintenance involves light pruning to maintain a tidy appearance. Repot every two years to refresh the soil and provide ample space for growth. Keep an eye out for pests like mealy bugs, which can lead to fungal issues. Promptly remove any dead or dying stems to prevent further spread.
Fockea natalensis is not known to be toxic.


Propagation of Fockea natalensis can be achieved through two methods: sowing seeds and taking cuttings.
Sowing seeds is a rewarding way to cultivate new plants. Begin by selecting mature, healthy seeds from a well-established Fockea natalensis plant. Sow them in a well-draining, sandy soil mixture, ensuring they are covered lightly. Provide a warm and bright environment, ideally with temperatures between 18-22°C, to encourage germination. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Taking cuttings is another effective way to propagate Fockea natalensis. Select a healthy, mature stem from the parent plant, making a clean cut with a sharp, sterilized tool. Allow the cutting to callus over for a few days in a dry, shaded area. Once callused, plant the cutting in a well-draining soil mix and provide it with indirect sunlight. Keep the soil slightly moist and monitor its progress as it establishes roots.
Both methods offer unique opportunities for growing new Fockea natalensis plants, allowing enthusiasts to expand their collections and share the beauty of this unique species with others.


The name of the rare genus Fockea was chosen in honour of Gustav Waldemar (Woldemar) Focke (1810–1877), German physician, plant physiologist and amateur microscopist.

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