Pachypodium rosulatum


Pachypodium cactipes
Pachypodium drakei
Pachypodium rosulatum drakei
Elephant’s foot plant


P. rosulatum 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. rosulatum is a shruby caudicform succulent belonging to Apocynaceae botanical family. The caudex is woody, thick, greenish silver in color, bottle-shaped, smooth and spineless. The trunk is covered with big paired conical spines and can reach 1.5 m in height. The succulent usually branches and many cylindrical arms depart from the caudex. 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 bright yellow in color and are borne on stalks up to 30 cm long.


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 10 °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 month 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 by seed or by cutting. 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. By seed is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with high level of humidity.


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.

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