Family: Apocynaceae
Habitat: Madagascar and South Africa
Cultivation: They are from very hot environments, so  the Pachypodium needs direct light and high temperatures (above 12 ° C and even up to 40 ° C). The soil should always be slightly damp.
Curiosity: 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).

Pachypodium, Key Features

Plants of the genus Pachypodium are succulent with various shapes and sizes, they are mostly from Madagascar. Most of them recall palm trees (in fact they are called “Palms of Madagascar”), others have a branching stem that gives them a bushy look. All of them are characterized by a swollen stem or wider at the base, which thins with height and has got thorns. This type of trunk is called pachicauli and acts as a water tank, allowing the plant to survive for long periods of drought. The leaves are generally long, the ramifications, however, are few if not absent.

They are close relatives of the Oleandri, have very important blooms with  various colors: white, yellow, red according to the species that stand out on the dark green leaves. The flowers are rather large and have a simple structure, five petals. They are also very fragrant.


Here are the varieties, recognized today, of this succulent.

  • Pachypodium ambongense
  • P. baronii
  • P. bispinosum
  • P. brevicaule
  • P. decaryi
  • P. densiflorum
  • P. eburneum
  • P. geayi
  • P. horombense
  • P. inopinatum
  • P. lamerei
  • P. lealii 
  • P. menabeum
  • P. namaquanum
  • P. rosulatum
  • P. rosulatum subsp. bicolor
  • P. rosulatum subsp. cactipes
  • P. rosulatum subsp. gracilius
  • P. rosulatum subsp. makayense
  • P. rutenbergianum
  • P. saundersii
  • P. sofiense
  • P. succulentum
  • P. windsorii


Here are our other tips for cultivating:

  • EXPOSURE: The Pachypodium needs a lot of light, even under the direct sunlight in the hottest hours of the day.
  • TEMPERATURE: They are from very hot environments so they should never be kept below  12 ° C. If the temperature is too low, the plant will show it to you by losing the foliage.
  • WATERING: abundant watering once every 3-4 days in spring and summer, taking care that the soil is dry between the watering. Do not let the soil dry for too long it would ruin the delicate roots: the ideal is to have a slightly moist soil.
  • SOIL: You can use a soil for cactaceae with the addition of some peat to make it richer.
  • CONCIMATION: Fertilize 1-2 times per month with a succulent fertilizer using half the doses indicated in the packs. Avoid fertilizers that are too rich in nitrogen (those for succulent should still contain little of it).
  • REPOTTING: 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.
  • REPRODUCTION: Pachypodium is reproduced by seed, but it is not easy to find it in the market. Place the seed on a sandy bed and keep the damp soil at about 21 ° C.

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