Operculicarya pachypus Eggli
Operculicarya pachypus is a small, deciduous pachycaul tree that can grow up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall. It is similar to the much more common Operculicarya decaryi, but it tends to stay more compact, with the trunk growing in a conical shape and looking like an odd bonsai tree. The branches are zig-zagged and glabrous, and their roots often swell to form unique contorted and twisted designs. The tiny green leaves work proportionally for that "bonsai" look.
The flowers are small, yellow-green, and appear in late winter.
USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11b: from 35 °F (+1.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Operculicarya pachypus is quite a strong plant, and because it is grown in rather harsh conditions, it is a relatively adaptable species. This plant is drought tolerant and does well in full sun in most places. However, it cannot tolerate freezing conditions.
It does not need an enormous amount of water, but it can enjoy quite a lot of water during the growing season. Water a bit more regularly if in a container. Its roots will swell underneath the soil; you will only know that when you repot the plant.
In cold winters, plants will be more or less deciduous but remain evergreen in warmer locations. Avoid watering during periods of dormancy.
Like most caudiciforms, this plant enjoys fast-draining potting soil. Avoid peat if possible, and amend the soil with drainage material such as pumice, expanded shale, perlite, or a similar product.
Operculicarya pachypus is native to southwestern Madagascar.
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