Habitat: Southern Africa: Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, in rocky slopes or sandy plains, in places protected from the wind, under direct sunlight or in half shade.
Cultivation: Not difficult.
Curiosity: This plants have huge, incredible flowers, which that have earned her the common name “Devil’s trumpet.”
Tavaresia is a genus of plants belonging to the Apocynaceae family, with five species all native to southern Africa where they are present in Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Their habitat is usually characterized by rocky slopes or sandy plains, in places protected from the wind, under direct sunlight or in half shade.
When it is not blooming, this plant looks like a common cactus: it is in fact composed of the typical green and thorny stems of Cactaceae. In particular, the stems are usually erect or more or less twisted like tentacles depending on the species, and covered by tubercles that, in some species (T. grandiflora), are aligned to form evident ribs, while in others (T. barklyi) appear as single tubercles. On the top of each tubercle there is a white areola, from which depart three, always white, thorns.
It would seem a normal cactus. Nevertheless, in the middle of Summer, its huge, strange flowers appear, particularly large in T. grandiflora but very evident also in the other species, which are like huge yellow goblets with many red spots arranged to form a fascinating, almost leopard-like weave and which are the cause of the English common name of Tavaresia: “Devil’s trumpet”.
These large trumpets, however, are only the protective shell: the reproductive organs of the flower are much smaller and are located right on the bottom of the goblet. They are usually formed by another cylindrical crown, from which the anthers depart, which are, therefore, fused together at the base, and with the female organ inside, in the middle of the stamens. Remember that the anthers and stamens are the male organs of the flower, which produce pollen. Such a complex floral structure lets us imagine that, in their natural environment, the Tavaresias have evolved together with specific pollinators, which however remain unknown.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Here below are a few species of Tavaresia. Check our online store to see if they’re avalable and find out more of them!
- Tavaresia angolensis
- Tavaresia barklyi
- Tavaresia grandiflora
- Tavaresia meintjesii
TIPS FOR GROWING
Devil’s trumpets can be grown successfully if kept dry in cold and humid conditions. In particular:
- Place them in half shade;
- Never leave these plants at temperatures below 5-10 ºC;
- Watering should be regular in Summer and suspended in Winter;
- The soil should be well drained and gritty, to avoid rotting due to water stagnation;
- Agave can grow up to two meters in height and, when planted in pots, they will need frequent repotting to grow well.
Propagation usually takes place through cuttings that should be left to dry for at least a week before being replanted. Tavaresias are often grafted onto Stapelia, which are a bit more resistant to rot than Devil’s trumpets. Sowing is not recommended because the seeds, although germinating promptly once mature, take about a year to ripen.