Pachypodium enigmaticum


There are not synonyms for this plant.


Pachypodium enigmaticum is native to Madagascar.


Pachypodium enigmaticum is a shruby caudicform succulent belonging to Apocynaceae botanical family. The plant has a woody thick caudex, greenish white, ball-shape, smooth and thorny at the apex that can reach 15 cm in depth and 8 cm in diameter. The apex of the caudex is covered with big paired conical and fleshy spines. The succulent usually branches from the caudex and bears the leaves at the top of the caudex. The leaves are lanceolate or elliptical and are dark green in color with a white middle vein. They are pubescent and deciduous and form a rosette at the apex of branches. Blooming occurs from early spring in February to early summer in May also in young plants. Flowers are star-shaped, bright yellow in color and are borne on stalks up to 30 cm long.


The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. For this succulent the best exposure is direct sunlight, so you can place it outdoors but be careful in the hottest days. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The plant does not like temperatures below 12°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 12 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. 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. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. Irrigation is proportional to the size of the pot, the position and the season. In Spring and Autumn the plant can be watered with a glass of water every 7-10 days; in summer it can be watered every 3-5 days. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. 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; it is usually done every 3-4 years. During the repotting operation pay attention to the spines of the plant and any minor wounds: the “milk” of the plant is poisonous and can have a hurtful effect.


Propagation is usually done by seed. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 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 plants that form the caudex use their subterranean tuber to store water and cope with long periods of drought. The name of the species refers to the “enigma” that was created when this specimen was found in a district of Madagascar, since according to some it was an already existing species, while only later it was confirmed that it was a new one.

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