Pachypodium densiflorum f. Crestata
P. densiflorum is native to Madagascar. In its habitat the plant grows in stony and sunny regions where can withstand subzero temperatures in winter and long dry period in summer.
P. densiflorum is a shruby caudicform succulent belonging to Apocynaceae botanical family. The caudex is woody, thick, smooth and silver in color with green hues. The trunk is covered with big paired conical spines and can reach 70 cm in height. The succulent usually forms short tapered branches, departing from the caudex. Leaves are elliptical to obovate and are dark green in color with a white middle vein and symmetrical venation in the upper page and pale green and pubescent in the lower page. Blooming occurs throughout the spring also in young plants. Flowers are five-lobed, bright yellow in color and are borne in cluster on stalks up to 40 cm long. The crested form tends to grow in the shape of a fan.
This is a rare plant, easy to cultivate and drought resistant. The best sun-exposure is full sunlight, and the plant does not like temperatures below 12 °C so it needs to be placed indoors. 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 perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly from March to September: 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 to the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a year during the growing season with the specifics 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 only by cutting, to not lose the mutation of the forma crestata. By cutting you can use the offsets during the spring. Cut an offset and then let it 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 success of propagation you can cut two or more offsets at the same time. For cuttings is recommended temperatures around 20 °C.
Also called “palm trees of Madagascar”, the Pachypodiums get their name from the shape of the trunk, wider at the base and it gradually narrowes with the height. Literally, Pachypodium means in fact “big foot” (from the Greek “pachys”, big and “podos”, foot). The name “densiflorum” means “dense flowered”, because it produces a lot of yellow flowers. The plants that form the caudex use their subterranean tuber to store water and cope with long periods of drought. The forma crestat is a natural mutation that occurred in the P. Densiflorum population and that was selected and propagated vegetatively.
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