Pachypodium densiflorum

Synonyms:

P. brevicalyx
P. densiflorum var. brevicalyx
P. densiflorum var. densiflorum

Habitat:

Pachypodium densiflorum is native to Southern, central and northern Madagascar. Its habitat are granite outcrops in severely arid climates, at an altitude range of about 1500 meters above sea level. In its natural habitat, the plant tends to form ground-covering, extended maps of crowded stems, and the caudex remains hidden, partially buried. Another ecological peculiarity is that the caudex itself is able to carry out the photosyntesis. Thus, the plant overcomes the arid season using both the nutrients already stored in the caudex, and the nutrients obtained through the photosyntesis.

Description:

Pachypodium densiflorum is a stubby, caudiciform, perennial plant. A caudiciform plant, in botany, is a kind of plant equipped with a caudex, that is an enlarged stem or, more often, trunk, which has the function to store nutrients and water to survive periods of drought. It is, in fact, typical of plants native to semi-arid climates, with a rather marked distinction between the rainfall season and the arid one.
In P. densiflorum, the caudex is smooth, greyish-silvery brownish. It can become rather large, reaching up to 1 meter in width! From above the caudex, many short, upright,thick, stubby, slightly conical stems are formed. They are also equipped by short, conical spines, very sharp and more crowded on the upper part of the stem. Leaves are grouped in crowded rosettes at the top of the stems. Their shape is almost perfectly oval and they have 2 colours: they are olive green on the upper side and red on the lower one. The entire plant reaches a maximum height of 70 centimeters. It has, overall, an odd aspect: it looks like a strange, irregular potato or a Jerusalem artichoke with its lumps filled with leaves. The species name “Densiflorum” refers to the crowded flowers, more than 12-15 in the same plant, clustered on stalks up to 40 centimeters high! The flowers are very appreciated for their lively yellow colour and their abundance. Fruits are horn-shaped, up ot 15 centimeters long, grouped in pairs, and host small, 4 millimeters wide seeds. Precisely for its oddity, P. densiflorum is very appreciated among caudiciform plant and bonsai lovers. It’s the perfect plant to make a bonsai: it stays very small when grown outside its natural habitat and doesn’t require any particular care. P. densiflorum is one of the most attractive species in the genus and it’s very sought after by collectors.

Cultivation:

Here are our other tips for cultivating:

P. densiflorum needs plenty of light. It should be kept always completely exposed to direct sunlight, also during the hottest hours of Summer days.
All Pachypodiums are from very hot environments (from Madagascar!) so they should never be kept below 12 ° C. If temperature becomes too low, the plant will loose the foliage. We suggest to keep your P. densiflorum indoors in Winter to stay safe, also because it makes such a decorative bonsai!
Provide abundant watering once every 3-4 days in spring and summer, but wait always for the soil to dry before each irrigation. Don’t leave the soil dry for too long: excessive drought will spoil the delicate roots.
Choose a cactus potting mix, very well-draining, and add some peat to make it richer.
Fertilize 1-2 times a month with a succulent fertilizer using half the doses indicated in the packs. Avoid products too rich in nitrogen (those for succulent should do good).
It’s okay to repot the plant every three years. Be careful during the repotting operations: spines can be hurtful. Watch out also from the poisonous latex that comes off any wound of the trunk.

 

Propagation:

Pachypodium densiflorum is reproduced by seeds: propagation by cuttings is rarely applied. Place the seeds on a sandy bed and keep the substrate sufficiently damp, at about 21°C. The perfect substrate has a very precise receipt: 4 parts fine and 4 parts coarse river sand, 1 part sieved, well-rotten compost; 1 part perlite; 1 part vermiculite. The germination rate is usually high: 90% of the seeds manage to form plantlets. Also, seeds don’t take much time to germinate: about 3-4 days are usually enough.

Curiosity:

The name Pachypodium comes from the lativ«n words “pachy”, meaning “thick” and “podium”, meaning “Foot”. The species name “Densiflorum”, instead, refers to the crowded blossoming that this plant shows in its natural habitat.

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