Trichocaulon flavum

Synonyms:

Hoodia flava
Ceropegia flavanthera
Trichocaulon karasmontanum

Habitat:

T. flavum is native to Cape Provinces and Namibia where the plant grows on gentle gravelly slopes.

Description:

T. flavum is a drought resistant succulent belonging to the Asclepiadaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect, cylindrical, pale green stem arranged in 18-31 vertical ribs. The plant branches from the base and can reach up to 50 cm in height and 7 cm in diameter. The ribs are armed with brown, sharp, 7 mm long, spines. Booming occurs in winter and flowers are borne at the apex of the stem. The small flowers have a yellow corona and a brown corolla and are 12 mm in diameter. The fruits are follicles and seeds are numerous.

Cultivation:

This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 6°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. 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 a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: 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 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 specific 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:

The easiest and fast method of propagation is to use cuttings. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting 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 the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.

Curiosity:

Trichocaulon is a very interesting example of convergent evolution. These plants, in facts, really look like cacti, although they are philogenetically very different from them. That’s because both cacti and Trichocaulon had to fit in a really arid and harsh environment, so they developed similiar structures.

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