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Alluaudia procera (Madagascar Ocotillo)

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Scientific Name

Alluaudia procera (Drake) Drake

Common Names

Madagascan Ocotillo, Madagascar Ocotillo, African Ocotillo

Synonyms

Didierea procera (basionym)

Scientific Classification

Family: Didiereaceae
Subfamily: Didiereoideae
Genus: Alluaudia

Description

Alluaudia procera is an unusual, spiny, succulent shrub or small tree up to 60 feet (18 m) tall. It has paired, rounded, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long leaves and grey spines that sprout up along the stout, whitish-gray, mostly unbranched and mostly upright stems. Some stems occasionally fork off in a pendulous direction before curving back upwards. Young plants form a tangle of stems that last for several years after which a strong central stem develops. The central stem is cylindrical, up to 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter and can be free of branches for 20 to 33 feet (6 to 10 m). The leaves and spines alternate along longitudinal lines, which near the tips have shallow channels between the lines. Leaves are deciduous in the long dry season. Plants in cultivation can, but rarely, flower with the tiny male or female flowers. They are greenish-yellow and appear in open thyrses at the tips of the branches.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Alluaudias need full sun or high interior lighting with a very well-drained soil mix and freely circulating air. The best way to water these succulents is to completely soak the soil and then let it dry out completely before you water again. If fertilizer is used, it should be diluted to 1/4 the recommended rate on the label.

These plants must be protected in the greenhouse over the winter. Established Alluaudias should tolerate temperatures around 32 °F (0 °C). During the winter months, the plants will drop all of their leaves and no water should be given during this period.

If planted in the landscape, however, it will often drop all its leaves when it decides to take a rest. When this happens, cut down on the watering until the leaves start to appear again.

Alluaudias are propagated from cuttings taken in the spring or from seed when available.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Alluaudia.

Origin

Alluaudia procera is native to the southern and southwestern Madagascar.

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