Alluaudia procera (A young specimen)
is an interesting succulent and one that is not seen in every
collection. This plant matures into a vertical tower of stems reaching
over 18 m high (in habitat).
Description: Spiny and scarcely branched or occasionally columnar,
small succulent tree with a very upright habit that looks a lot like a
"crown of thorns". The plant can grow rather tall, 1,5-3 m high indoors
and up to 18 m tall in its native haunts (but cultivated plant rarely
surpass the 8 m of height).
Stem: Succulent almost unbranched, thin and corrugated tube-like,
mostly columnar covered with regularly spaced sharp, conical, tapering
thorns and leaves arranged in parallel tracts spiraling up the trunk.
The stem is of a beautiful bone white colour and lignifies as the plant
ages and will reach a diameter of 15 cm at the base.
Leaves: Small, oval or rounded, green succulent that bud right
off the trunk, 1 to 5 cm (or more) long.
The leaves clothe the stems during the warm wet season, but will often
drop during any lengthy dry periods or (usually in cultivation) with the
onset of winter.
Flowers: Yellowish white in crowded clusters at the end of the
branches. Flowers will be produced in mature specimens taller than 3 m
on separate male and female plants.
In winter the plant loose all its leaves.
Scientific name: Alluaudia
procera (Drake del Castillo) Drake del Castillo
In: Bull. Mus. Hist.
Nat. (Paris) 9: 37. 1903.
Southern and southwestern Madagascar (Toliara)
Habitat & ecology: It
is one of the thorny plants of the Madagascan spine forests (along with
Pachypodium spp.). found in the island’s semi-arid southwest. It grows
in areas that may receive no rain for more than a year. It can withstand
extended periods of drought, yet lacks the water storage tissues
associated with most true succulents. In it's native habit Alluadia
varies from small shrublike to tall tree like plants. Some branch
profusely and others are more solitary. All are deciduous in the dry
season but leaf out virtually over night when the rains come.
Common English Names include:
- Didierea procera
In: Comp. Rend. Hebd. Séances
Acad. Sci. 133:241. 1901
In winter the plant loose all it leaves.
Stem (in time of drought)
or Madagascar Ocotillo in many ways it resembles the
American Ocotillo (Fouquieria
splendens) with red
flowers. Both have small rounded leaves and grayish trunks with a lot of
spines, but that is where the similarities and in fact they belongs to
two different families. This is a perfect example of convergent
evolution - unrelated plants adapting similar shapes and survival
strategies in response to the same environmental conditions.
is probably the most common
species in cultivation, it
needs full sun or high interior
lighting with a very well drained soil mix and freely circulating air.
Plants are watered and allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again.
If fertilizer is used, it should be diluted to ¼ (one-quarter) the
recommended rate on the label.
It is a frost
tender species that must be protected in the greenhouse over the winter
but established plants
should tolerate temperatures as low as 0° C (Avoid any frost!). If grown
in the home environment, the ideal temperatures should run between 20°
to 30° C with winter time temperatures around 10°C. During the winter
months, the plant will drop all of its leaves and no water should be
given during this period. Not freely branching. Once this plant is
established in its new pot, it should be cut back to 7-10 cm in height
to encourage branching. The cutting removed can be rooted easily, and
the process repeated.
If pruned and kept somewhat pot
bound, they can be maintained at a manageable size, depending on what
"manageable size" means to you. If planted in the landscape however,
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
is propagated from cuttings taken in the spring or from seed when
This is a terrific plant for
those in warmer, drier areas who want something 'different' looking-
maybe even a bit weird. Nothing is quite like it for adding interest to
gardens, especially when plants are grown in multiples and allowed to
create a mini-forest. It has some tough, sharp spines, but because of
its very upright habit, is rarely a problem walking around.
the wood of the plant is used in building and for charcoal.