Trichocaulon

Family: Asclepiadaceae
Habitat: South Africa and Namibia, in arid, harsh environments.
Cultivation: See below
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.

KEY FEATURES

Trichocaulon is a genus of plants belonging to the Asclepiadaceae family. As it unfortunately happens in the succulent world, its nomenclature is a bit confusing: we can find many species of Trichocaulon which can also be called Larryleachia or Hoodia (for example, T. cactiforme that’s also called Larryleachia cactiforme).

These plants are native to South Africa and Namibia, where they managed to adapt to really arid, harsh environment until taking on an aspect similar to a Cactus. This is the typical example of convergent evolution: different groups of plant inhabiting extremely distant countries which develop similar structures to adapt to a similar habitat. Trichocaulon remain phylogenetically very different from cacti, but end up being similar to each others.

Trichocaulon, in fact, really look like cacti. They have columnar, pale-green stems, usually erect, scaled or covered in nipple-like tubercles with a white thorn on them.

Trichocaulon are also appreciated for their marvellous flowers. For example, in the most popular species, T. cactiforme, flowers show an incredible weave: they are purple with intricate veins of bright yellow and give an obscure, fashinating look to the entire plant. Actually they are usually purple also in the other species, with differents shades and weavesdepending on the species. They are not grouped in an inflorescence and so can be scattered along the stem, such as in T. piliferum, or concentrated at the top of it, such as in T. cactiforme.

VARIETY AND TYPES

Here below are a few species of Trichocaulons: check our online store to fine more ones!

  • Trichocaulon alstonii
  • Trichocaulon cactiformis
  • Trichocaulon dinteri
  • Trichocaulon engleri
  • Trichocaulon felinum
  • Trichocaulon grande
  • Trichocaulon similis

TIPS FOR GROWING

Cultivating Trichocaulons is really satifying and also not so difficult.

  • Put them in a bright spot in Winter and in light shade during the Summer, especially in the hottest hours.
  • This plant can handle cold (but not extreme) temperatures: never below 0ºC. We advice to keep them indoors or either outdoors in frost-free areas, with Winters not too humid.
  • Watering should be regular in Spring and Summer, then gradually reduced in Autumn until being suspended in Winter.
  • Use a well-draining, possibly sandy substrate.

The propagation of Trichocaulon is usually carried out by seed.

Official Web Site:
www.giromagi.com

Italian Blog:
www.giromagicactus.com

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