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Origin and Habitat: Somalia, sudan Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman).
Altitude range: 800–1800 metres above sea level.
- Caralluma penicillata (Deflers) N.E.Br.
Caralluma penicillata (Deflers) N.E.Br.
Gard. Chron. III, 12: 278 1892.
- Caralluma penicillata (Deflers) N.E.Br.
- Caralluma penicillata var. robusta (N.E.Br.) A.C.White & B.Sloane
- Caralluma robusta N.E.Br.
- Echidnopsis golathi Schweinf. ex Deflers
ENGLISH: paint brush caralluma
Description: Caralluma penicillata is a succulent bush, with erect stems, curved downwards when old, up to 1.3-2 m tall and 0.6-1 m in spread. It is an isolated species with relationships to Subgen. Desmidorchis (Gilbert 1990).
Stems: 20-60 mm thick, branching from the base, irregularly branched above, succulent, glabrous, light green or grey-green, with 4 edges plate-like compressed like wings, irregularly toothed, upper part less angular, flowering stems apically tapering and bearing a succession of scars of old inflorescences. Tubercles oblong-triangular, wing-like, obtuse.
Flowers: Small, densely clustered in small inflorescences (umbels) 30-50 together, that are first terminal but later laterally displaced by new growth of the stem apex. Flowers with very weak odour. Pedicells 5-10 mm long, 1-1.5 mm thick, without bracts. Sepals lanceolate, spreading apically blunt. Corolla rotate, with a short tube and flat, c. 9-15 mm wide, lobed more than half-way down, pale yellow-green outside, yellow green, leather-yellow or livid brown inside with sparse to very dense brownish-purple spots, glabrous except for a brush-like tuft of purple, mobile hairs at the end of each lobe, thus the name "paint brush" caralluma. Corolla-lobes ovate-lanceolate, 4 mm long, 2.5-3 mm wide, inside papillate, papillae irregularly rounded, with small bristles. Corona 3.5 mm in diameter, green or (rarely) reddish-brown, with stiff hairs, and covered with nectar. Inner-corona lobes like short teeth, growing out of the outer corona and arching-incumbent on the anthers, apically pubescent, hairs white or light pink. Outer corona very reduced cup-shaped, of 5 pouch-like fused lobes, nearly truncate or very broadly triangular at the upper edge, very thinly covered with short hairs all over.
Fruits (follicles): Paired, 5.5-7 cm long.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Alain Campbell White, Boyd L. Sloane “The Stapelieae”, Volume 1, Typography and printing by S. E. Haselton at Abbey San Encino Press, 1937
2) Desmidorchis penicillata (Defl.) Plowes [family ASCLEPIADACEAE] J. Lavranos et al. In "Flora Somalia", Vol 3, 2006 [updated by M. Thulin 2008] web http://plants.jstor.org/stable/10.5555/al.ap.flora.flos002839?searchUri=filter%3Dname%26so%3Dps_group_by_genus_species%2Basc%26Query%3DCaralluma%2Bpenicillata
3) Hans Dieter Neuwinger “African Ethnobotany: Poisons and Drugs : Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology” CRC Press, 1996
4) Focke Albers, Ulrich Meve “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Asclepiadaceae: Asclepiadaceae”, Volume 4 Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
5) Hermann Jacobsen “A Handbook of Succulent Plants: Descriptions, Synonyms, and Cultural Details for Succulents Other Than Cactaceae”, Volume 1, Blandford Press, 1960
6) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
Cultivation and Propagation: Caralluma penicillata is relatively easy to grow. It needs regular watering, especially during the hottest summer days; provide also some light watering if the green house temperatures in winter are elevated. Either excessive or very scarce watering can induce rot.
Frost Tolerance: Winter temperatures must be kept over 10° C. But it can withstand winter night-time temperatures down to about 5°(or less) Celsius for short period. Freezing temperatures are fatal.
Sun Exposure: Full sun to half sun. It has a great advantage if grown in very strong light, but sheltered from full sun.
Cultural Practices: Provide very good ventilation. It grows quite easily and fast on its own roots. It is not difficult as commonly supposed.
Warnings: Caralluma penicillata proved to be highly toxic: sheep died from grazing on it.
Propagation: Seeds and cuttings.
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