Alluadia procera is a species of succulent plant native to the arid regions of Madagascar. It is commonly known by various names, including the “Madagascar ocotillo,” “octopus tree,” or “African cactus.” While it may resemble a cactus, it is not actually a member of the Cactaceae family but belongs to the Didiereaceae family.
Alluadia procera is a unique and visually striking plant that can grow to impressive heights, reaching up to 20 feet (6 meters) in its natural habitat. It features a thick, succulent stem with numerous branches that give it the appearance of an octopus, hence the name “octopus tree.” The stem is covered in small, fleshy leaves that are deciduous, meaning they fall off during periods of drought.
The plant’s branches are densely covered with sharp spines or thorns, which serve as a defense mechanism against herbivores. The thorns are arranged in pairs along the stem, with each pair appearing as a v-shape. These thorns can cause injury, so caution should be exercised when handling the plant.
Alluadia procera is well-adapted to the arid conditions of its native environment. It is drought-tolerant and can survive in low-water conditions. The plant’s leaves are capable of photosynthesis and store water during the wet season, enabling it to endure extended periods of drought.
During the rainy season, Alluadia procera produces small, inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers that are pollinated by insects. These flowers give way to small, fleshy fruits that contain numerous tiny seeds. The seeds are dispersed by wind or by passing animals.
In cultivation, Alluadia procera can be grown as a unique and attractive ornamental plant in arid or desert-themed gardens. It requires well-draining soil and prefers full sun exposure. The plant can be propagated from seeds or by taking stem cuttings.