Pachypodium lamerei

Origin and Habitat: Madagascar.

Description: Pachypodium lamerei is a very attractive spiny semidecidous or deciduous semitropical succulent stemmed tree, 2,5-6 m tall, or more with optimal conditions. (As a houseplant, it is much smaller) In cultivation it is often marketed as the "Madagascar Palm", despite in not being a palm at all. The Pachypodium tends to lose its leave and go dormant in winter in temperate climate areas.
Stem: It has a an intensely spiny grey (almost white) and stout trunk with smooth surface, which is solitary and columnar when young or dichotomously branched when older and the base is spindle-shaped or bulbous. The trunk can grow up to 30 centimetres in diameter and five meters height and is covered by tough, glossy bark and spirally set low tubercles. Branching starts only after the first flowering which can be expected once the plants are about 1,5-1,8 m tall.
Thorn: 3 on each tubercle, the 2 divergent lateral 1-2,5(-6) cm long, with a shorter ascending central.
Leaves: Simple, green, glassy, finely tomentose below, lanceloted arranged spirally mostly just at the top of the plant. Petiole up to 4 cm long
Roots: Fine, delicate (older plants can have huge rootballs, though).
Inflorescence: Terminal with stout branching peduncle 5-20 cm long.
Flowers: The flowers are 3-6 cm long and 5-8(-11) cm in diameter, salverform, white with yellow centre, attractive and nice smelling. Corolla lobes truncate, abruptly narrowed toward the base 2,5-4 cm long. It rarely flowers indoors.
Blooming season: Only mature plants bloom (1,8 m tall or more). It flowers in spring to early summer, on and off through all the warm months.
Fruits and seeds: It produces seed pods that look like bananas. 15-20 cm long. Left alone, they eventually open along the seam revealing great numbers of white-winged seeds.
Seeds: Simple, green, finely tomentose below, lanceloted arranged spirally mostly just at the top of the plant.
Roots: Fine, delicate (older plants can have huge rootballs, though).
Flowers: 15 mm long, brown.

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Cultivation and Propagation: Pachypodium lamerei is fairly easy to grow both indoors, as well as outdoors in warm climates and can grow at about 4 in (10 cm) a year. In the winters it is deciduous, except in very tropical areas.
Growth rate: It is a fairly slow growing plant, but in 10 years it can easily outgrow its indoor location, requiring a 'pruning'. Though branching is usually a response to naturally injury, or something that happens in older specimens, one can stimulate branching by cutting off its top. It has amazing regenerative properties.
Soil: It needs a draining cactus potting mix.
Re-potting: Repot the plant every 3 years; this is quite tricky given all the spines. The best way is to wrap several layers of newspaper around the trunk where it is to be handled.
Waterings: It needs regular water when the plant has leaves, contrary to popular belief, it likes a lot of water in the warm summers, as long as it's planted in a very well draining soil. Indoors it is best to err on the dry side, or it is prone to rot.
Exposures: It like full sun to light shade with warm temperatures.
Propagation: Seeds or division.Fresh seeds results in a remarkable yield of new plants, perhaps 90%, Soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours before sowing in moist sand. Seed start sprouting in just 3-4 days ( but continue to germinate erratically for about 6 month). Pachypodium lamerei are also propagated by removal of small offshoots that grow at the base of the old plant. Carefully break off the offshoots, they should be allowed to dry for 5 to 8 days before potting up.

"Pachypodium lamerei" Text available under a CC-BY-SA Creative Commons Attribution License. 14 Nov. 2005. 07 Mar 2021. </Encyclopedia/TREES/Family/Apocynaceae/10823/Pachypodium_lamerei>

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