ISI 2006-17. Didierea madagascariensis Baillon

This is a quintessential component of the thorn forests of Madagascar and is one of only two species of the genus Didierea in the endemic family Didiereaceae. While the family’s affinities lie closest to the Portulacaceae it is rather like a bizarre combination of that leafier family and the related Cactaceae. All three families are included in the order Caryophyllales, distinguished by the presence of betalain pigments. These play a bit part in the otherwise drab flowers flowers of D. madagascariensis, in the bright magenta stigma lobes of the females and the stamen filaments of the males, which occur on separate plants. D. madagascariensis forms columnar stems (solitary until quite mature) clothed in linear leaves when in growth. These partly conceal the bold stellate spine clusters atop elongate tubercles. HBG 93961, from seed collected by Röösli and Hoffmann (404), Nov. 22, 2004, S of Morondava, Madagascar. $10.

Photo © 2006 by John N. Trager. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 78 (2), March - April, 2006