Family: Pedaliaceae
Habitat: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe
Cultivation: Easy
Curiosity: Its name comes from Greek and makes reference to something winged, indicating, according to some opinions, the particular shape of its seeds.


Pterodiscus is a genus of caudiciform plants in the family Pedaliaceae. A caudiciform plant is a plant provided with a caudex. The caudex is an evolutionary device typical of plants native to semi-arid areas. It’s used as a stock for water and nutrients to survive the driest periods. These succulents are highly appreciated by plants collectors from all over the world for the massive size of their caudex and its irregular, lumpy shape.

Pterodiscus are native to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe. Their habitat are usually grasslands with bare, alluvional soils or either sandy, calcareous and clayey ones. Some species prefer instead to grow amog the rocks. The altitude range of their habitat depend actually on the species: it goes from 600-700 to around 1500 meters above the sea level.

Pterodiscus are perennial plants, usually deciduos. This means that, during the winter, they loose their green, aerial part, and only the caudex, partially buried, remains visible. During the following vegetative season, however, many green annual stems, slender and with an abundant foliage, sprout.

The caudex of Pterodiscus is partly aerial and partly subterranean. It’s usually woody and sub-cylindrical, but in some species can be carrot-shaped or pyriform. It’s brown or yellow in colour, with lighter vertical fissures in the bark.

The annual stems sprout from the caudex, show a variable length according on the species (maximum around 30 centimeters of length), are slender, erect and woody at their base.

The shape of their leaves is different depending on the species. Usually, they are linear-lanceolated or oval-elliptical, sometimes with lobate or crenate edges, usually glabrous.

Flowers are really cute: they’re solitary, sprouting from the axiles of the leaves, and can show different colours depending on the species: white in P. luridus, pink in P. speciosus, yellow and tinged in orange-red in P. ngamicus. They are more or less funnel-shaped, with th five petals more or less prononcedly fused together (when fused, petals are called lobes): in the above mentioned P. ngamicus, the lobes of the corolla are short compared to the funnel-shaped, elongated base of the flower, while in other species the lobes are longer and pronounced, giving the impression to be separated petals.


There’s still confusion about the classification of Pterodiscus species. However, we list below a few of them:

  • P. aurantiacus
  • P. brasiliensis
  • P. elliottii
  • P. speciosus
  • P. ngamicus
  • P. luridus

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Here are our cultivation tips to grow your Pterodiscus:

  • It likes very bright places, however, avoid direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.
  • It is preferable to keep it at mild temperatures and never below 5 °C, for this reason it is recommended to shelter it during the winter period.
  • Water regularly but moderately during the vegetative period, always making sure that the soil is always dry between one watering and another one, avoiding stagnation of water. During the vegetative rest period, suspend watering.
  • A well-draining and porous soil is an optimal solution, even better if further enriched with 50% or more of inert materials such as pumice or lapilli.
  • They do not need frequent fertilization, it is sufficient to dilute the fertilizer with watering once a year.

The adviced propagation method is through seed.

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