Cyphostemma uter (Exell & Mendonça) Desc.
Cyphostemma uter is a deciduous caudiciform succulent that grows from a very stout trunk, repeatedly branching from the apex and forming a low much-branched tree. The caudex is swollen, up to 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter, with dull white to orange bark. Branches are up to 1 foot (30 cm) in diameter. Leaves are fleshy, hairy, green, and crowded at the end of branches. They are 5-foliolate with undulate serrated margins, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long and about as wide as they are long. Flowers are greenish-yellow and appear in summer arranged in cymes.
USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11b: from 35 °F (+1.7 °C) to 45 °F (+7.2 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Wild Grape is a sought-after plant for the garden, as are other caudiciform plants such as Baobabs, Adeniums, and Tylecodons. They make superb container or open garden subjects in and around the garden, especially around swimming pools and courtyards. Because this species grows mainly in the summer, plants must be kept dry during the colder winter months. They are ideal accent plants for a rockery or can be planted in a large container on a sunny protected patio.
The Wild Grape fares best in loamy or sandy soil where drainage is optimal. Adding plenty of river sand and general compost will greatly improve drainage in heavy clay soils. Soil quality can also be improved dramatically by lightly working some bone meal into the soil. Although smelly, the effect on soils is quite remarkable. As a rule of thumb, use only organic products, such as those based on seaweed extract, especially if plants are fed regularly. Organic products won't burn or damage plants.
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