ISI 2014-26. Hoodia currorii (Hooker) Descaine ssp. currorii

Here is a riddle: What is succulent and attracts both dieters and flies? That’s right, Hoodia! H. gordonii has gotten a lot of press in recent years as the rediscovered godsend for dieters. It has long been used by indigenous peoples within its range as an appetite suppressant. After all, have you ever seen an obese bushman? Never mind that hunter-gatherers get plenty of exercise and have diets low in processed carbohydrates. Nevertheless, populations of H. gordonii have been decimated and H. curroriii has also been impacted because of its similar appearance and properties. Its satellite-dish-like flowers can be 8 cm (3") or more across providing a broad landing platform for fly pollinators. At the flower’s center is a wound-like depression from which the attracting aroma is emitted and a nectar reward can be found to keep the flies buzzing from flower to flower to effect pollination. The depression, as well as the more star-shaped, hairy flowers distinguishes H. currorii from the more southerly H. gordonii. H. currorii is the preferred name for the northern Namibian/Angolan species that is sometimes seen under the synonym H. macrantha in reference to its large flowers. It is hoped that these nursery grown seedlings can, in some small way, help relieve collecting pressures. Bet you can’t eat just one, but don’t bother. Pass the chips and enjoy the flowers instead. HBG 120334, $7.

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Photo © 2014 by John N. Trager. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 86 (2), March - April, 2014