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  Ipomoea bolusiana CACTUS ART

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

Ipomoea bolusiana is highly esteemed by caudex and cactus growers for the beautiful flamboyant flowers that are up to 4-7cm long, pink with deeper purple or magenta centres. The leaves are cut into three lobes but the lobes are only 3 mm or so wide.

Description: Perennial dwarf shrub, glabrous with caudiciform rootstock.
Caudex: This plant has a thick tuberous, above-ground subglobose or somewhat fusiform root-stock, 5–20 cm. in diam.
Stems: One or several, erect or prostrate, woody at the base, glabrous, terete, usually slender. Length 0.2 - 3 m
Leaves: Widely spaced, narrow, covered in fine silver hairs. Leaf lamina palmately 3–9 sect, with very narrow, linear or filiform segments 20–70 Χ 0,5–4 (10) mm., sometimes somewhat pinnate to distinctly pinnate, if 3 terminal segments are partly fused to form a common rachis, or entire, linear, sometimes linear spathulate, 4–10 (15) Χ 0,2–0,4 (0,7) cm.; petioles of dissected leaves up to about 2 cm. long, of simple leaves sometimes inconspicuous because the leaf is much narrowed at the base.
Flowers: Axillary, flamboyant, 4-7cm long (and 4-5cm wide) funnel-shaped of soft to mid-pink with deeper purple or magenta centres (Rare white forms are reported). Peduncle very short, rarely up to 6 cm. long; pedicels very short, thickened, rarely up to 15 mm. long; bracteoles, small, lanceolate, often deciduous. Sepals ovate-lanceolate, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, sometimes ovate or elliptic, acute or acuminate, 8–16 mm. long, glabrous. Corolla funnel-shaped, magenta-pink, mauve or rosy-purple, darker in the centre, very rarely reported to be white, 4–7,5 cm. long and 4–6 cm. in diam.
Fruit: Capsule subglobose-conical, apiculate by the style-base, glabrous.
Seeds: covered with long shiny fawn hairs.

This is a spectacular species which forms a round decorative caudex from which it then produces one or more trailing stems.



Family: Convolvulaceae

Scientific name:  Ipomea bolusiana Schinz
in: Verh. Bot. Ver. Brand. Xxx: 271(1888)

Origin:  Southern Africa, Madagascar, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola; Namibia; Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Habitat: Open woodland and savanna, grassland with scattered shrubs, rocky and sandy soils. Altitude range 0–1525 m.

Etymology: Named after Harry Bolus (1834-1911) English-born South African banker and botanist, Emigrated to South Africa in 1850.


  • Ipomoea simplex Hook,
    in Bot. Mag. 72: t. 4206 (1846) nom. illegit. non Thumb.
  • Ipomoea angustisecta Engl.
    in Engl., Bot. Jahrb. 10: 245, t. 7, fig. A (Oct. 1888
  • Ipomoea mesenterioides Hall. f.
    in Bull. Herb. Boiss. 6: 544 (1898
  • Ipomoea bolusiana var. abbreviata Hall. f.
    in Bull. Herb. Boiss. 7: 54 (1899).
  • Ipomoea praetermissa Rendle
    in Journ. Bot. 39: 56 (1901).
  • Ipomoea simplex var. obtusisepala Rendle
    in Baker & Rendle in F.T.A. 4, 2: 174 (1905)
  • Ipomoea bolusiana var. pinnatipartita Verdc.
    in Kirkia 6: 118 (1967).
  • Ipomoea bolusiana var. elongata Hall. F
    in Bull. Herb. Boiss. 7: 54 (1899).
  • Ipomoea rubro-viridis Baker 1886a



Note: Ipomoea bolusiana is often confused with the very similar Ipomoea holubii. In fact the the caudex, flower of both are very similar if not identical. The difference seems to be that the leaves of the "holubii" are not needle-like but more elliptical lanceolate, slightly larger and longer and more spaced. And also the viny stems are longer and flowers more numerous.

Cultivation: Ipomoea bolusiana is an old favourite that’s easy to grow and puts on a fanciful display, but it takes years to develop and is not a plant for the impatient gardener. It needs a well-drained soil (e.g. use a mixture for cactus + normal potting soil) with the caudex planted largely above the soil surface. It can be planted “on” the ground, it will root soon, and the chances of getting rot are smaller this way rather than planted underground (although it grows more slowly). It needs regular watering during the active growing season without too much water. Let the soil become rather dry before watering again. Stop watering gradually when the stalk dries out after blooming in summer, or else the bulbs may rot. Start watering when the stalk starts growing again in late winter.
Give it plenty of sun, but keep the caudex bulb shaded. Protect from heat in summer. A clay pot is best.
Ipomoea bolusiana has an edible tuber, the small tuberous roots are roasted or boiled.

Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery IPOMOEA

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Encyclopaedia of Succulents. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.