ISI 2014-33. Tylecodon paniculatus (L. f.) Toelken

This is the largest, most succulent of the tylecodons to 2 m (6') or more tall with a trunk to 60 cm. (2') diameter. One massive specimen growing in the center of the town of Springbok was even larger but most garden grown plants will top out at about 1 m (3'). The stems are brittle, composed of succulent tissue so soft you can cut it like butter, hence the common name of botterboom in Afrikaans, or butter tree in English. These stems are bright green, like the leaves that form rosettes at the stem tips. However, the green of the stems is mostly masked by the peeling, parchment-like bark. It is the widest ranging member of the genus but is mostly restricted to winter-rainfall regions from southern Namibia to the succulent Karoo in the W. Cape of S. Africa. It will tolerate some summer water in a garden situation but one risks root rot as happened to a specimen at the Huntington. That provided the opportunity to propagate for this distribution. Rooted cuts of HBG 69678, Michael Vassar 4982, collected July, 1990, from an E-facing rocky ridge about 19.2 km S of Calvinia, N. Cape, S. Africa. $12.

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Photo © 2014 by Karen Zimmerman. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

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