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Pachypodium lealii (Bottle Tree)

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Scientific Name

Pachypodium lealii Welw.

Common Names

Bottle Tree

Synonyms

Pachypodium lealii subsp. lealii, Pachypodium giganteum

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Apocynoideae
Tribe: Malouetieae
Genus: Pachypodium

Description

Pachypodium lealii is a shrub or small tree, up to 20 feet (6 m) tall, with thick bottle-shaped trunk, which is almost branchless until the top. The branches are few and covered by slender thorns up to 1 foot (30 cm) long. Leaves are oblong and covered with short hairs on both surfaces. The white flowers cluster around the tips of the branches. They are present in the spring when the tree is leafless.

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Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

The attractive flowers of Pachypodiums and the intriguing shapes of their swollen stems make them desirable for any garden. They are not suitable for cold or damp gardens and are very sensitive to frost. If planted in a sunny garden that experiences occasional frost, they should be given a warm, sheltered position.

They make good accent plants in a rock garden, especially when grouped with other caudiciform succulent plants. All need full sun, lots of water (except during the dormant phase), and must have good drainage.

Almost all species are surprisingly adaptable to cultivation, changing their growing season when they are grown in the northern hemisphere.

These plants like ample light and grow best in full sun. Partial shade is tolerated but may discourage flowering. When grown in a glasshouse, ventilation is important. Ample water is required during the growing season, depending on the species and the size of the specimen. Allow the soil to dry out before adding more water.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Pachypodium.

Origin

Pachypodium lealii is an endemic species of Namibia and southern Angola, where it occupies the semi-desert areas and dry bushvelds, usually along rocky hillsides.

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