Family: Pedaliaceae
Habitat: Africa, tropical or sub-tropical habitats.
Cultivation: Appreciated as bonsais, well-draining substrate, exposure from direct light to semi shades.
Curiosity: Their name literally means “sesame-like shrub” and was defined by the Austrian explorer Friedrich Martin Josef Welwitsch (1806 – 1872).


Sesamothamnus is a genus of perennial plants belonging to the Pedaliaceae family. It is a little known and very particular plant, especially for its strange flowers. Its name literally means “sesame-like shrub” and was defined by the Austrian explorer Friedrich Martin Josef Welwitsch (1806 – 1872).

Sesamothamnus are shrubs or trees that reach a maximum height of 5 meters. They have small, bright green, smooth, oval, not succulent leaves. Some species also have thorns. Some species, such as S. lugardii, have a swollen trunk at the base like baobabs, which gives them a very grotesque appearance that makes them sought after in ornamental gardening. The swollen trunk is used to store nutrients and water during unfavorable seasons.

However, what is striking about this sapling are the flowers: usually white, they are large and not very numerous within a single inflorescence, and almost look like grotesque white skirts. They have 5 petals fused together at the base and bloom in summer. In S. lugardi instead they are single and carried by long dark peduncles.


Here are the best-known species of Sesamothamnus. Check our online store for more ones!

  • Sesamothamnus guerichii
  • Sesamothamnus rivae


The Sesamothamnus are easy to cultivate and very versatile: if you live in warm climate zones with winters not too cold you can also plant them outdoors, maybe in a rock garden or in a well drained soil. Also as bonsai or houseplants usually give good results, also because they grow quite slowly. Pruning could be a possibility if you want to accelerate their growth. These plants should be exposed to direct light in general, or in semi-shade with higher temperatures. Watering should be moderate and regular when the plant has leaves: Sesamothamnus love to get plenty of water during the summer, especially if it is very hot.

Sesamothamnus can be propagated either from seed or cuttings. Cuttings are often preferred because of the difficulty in propagating from seed: when artificially sown, the seeds do not germinate very often.

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