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PACHYPODIUM geayi

Image of Pachypodium geayi

James Burghardt

Family

Apocynaceae

Botanical Name

PACHYPODIUM geayi

Plant Common Name

Madagascar-palm, Pachypodium

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

A succulent small tree, looking like a combination of a cactus and a palm, this species of Madagascar-palm looks very similar to Pachypodium lamerei and P. rutenbergianum. Native to southern Madagascar, the misleadingly named Madagascar-palm is more closely related to oleanders (Nerium spp.) and desert roses (Adenium spp.) than true palms. This semi-evergreen succulent grows tall and slender with a plump, even obese trunk. Cool, dry winters cause the tufts of lustrous leaves to drop away, leaving a stark, scary looking skeleton.

The 1-inch-long (2.5 cm) spines on the trunk occur in threes, occasionally twos. These gray-fuzzed spine clusters develop atop structures called tubercles. On the trunk tip, or any of the few branch tips, a whorl of long, upright, strap-like leaves grow. Each leaf is dark green with minute silver-gray hairs and a pinkish midrib. This species blooms in the heat of spring and summer when the leaves are fully present. Tip clusters of fragrant white, funnel-shaped blossoms are held on branched stalks. Each blossoms has five petals. After flowering, this succulent may produce branching shoots from the trunk or branch tip. Very old, large specimens often develop an inverse bottle-shaped trunk, even lacking spines.

Grow Madagascar-palm in full sun and any non-acidic, moderately fertile, gritty, very porous soil. Although amazingly drought tolerant, growth is lusher and flowering improves when the soil is bone dry in winter and then evenly moist in the heat of summer. Use this tall, architecturally striking succulent in a rock garden among cactus and other frost-tender succulents. When smaller, it makes an acceptable potted specimen, too. When dormant in winter with dry soil conditions, it tolerates a touch of frost. Overall, it's a more finicky and delicate tree succulent to grow compared to both P. lamerei and P. rutenbergianum.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 13, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    15'-22' / 4.6m - 6.7m

  • Width

    4'-6' / 1.2m - 1.8m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Madagascar

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Silver

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No