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Fockea multiflora (Python Vine)

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Scientific Name

Fockea multiflora K.Schum.

Common Names

Elephant Vine, Python Creeper, Python Kambro, Python Vine

Synonyms

Fockea schinzii

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Fockeeae
Genus: Fockea

Origin

Native to Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Description

Fockea multiflora is a large succulent with a swollen tuberous base and up to grow up to 50 feet (15 m) long branches that sprawl on the ground or twine around any available support. The caudex is grey or brown, variable in shape, and grows up to 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter. Leaves are green, elliptic, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, and up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) wide. Flowers are bisexual, 5-merous, yellow-green, and usually appear in summer on a many-flowered peduncle. Fruits are smooth, paired, horn-shaped, up to 9 inches (22.5 cm) long, and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter.

The specific epithet "multiflora" derives from the Latin words "multus," meaning "many" and "flora," meaning "flower," and refers to the flowering habit of the plant.

How to Grow and Care

Light: These plants prefer partial shade. They can tolerate full sun but need a little sun protection during the hottest part of the day.

Soil: Fast-draining soil mix is the best soil for your Fockea to drain excess water.

Hardiness: Fockea multiflora can tolerate temperatures as low as 25 to 50 °F (-3.9 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b.

Watering: During the growing season, from spring to fall, water regularly allowing the soil to dry between waterings. Reduce watering in the winter. Water only enough to prevent the shriveling of the tuber.

Fertilizing: To force tuber growth, feed with high-nitrogen fertilizer with a lower potassium level, only during the growing season.

Propagation: Fockea plants are relatively easy to grow from seeds. They are dioecious, so both male and female plants are needed to produce seeds. Vegetative propagation is difficult to impossible.

Toxicity: Fockeas are known as food plants, but the tuber has milky sap, which is said to be poisonous. Avoid contact with skin or eyes and keep away from children and pets.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Fockea.

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