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Growing habitat at le jardin exotique de Monaco.
Origin and Habitat: Zygosicyos pubescenswas thought to be extinct until 1990, has been recently found from five localities in an area of some 400 km2 in south-east Madagascar to the west of Taloagnaro (Ekodida forest at Amboasary Sud).
Habitat and ecology: This species grows in rocky area on small ills in shrub and dry Didiera forest with little shade. This area is affected by fire, overgrazing, fuelwood extraction and charcoal extraction. The species is in some demand as a horticultural plant, grown chiefly by collectors of succulents.
Description: Zygosicyos pubescens, best known as Xerosicyos pubescens, is a dioecious perennial, caudiciform plant in the gourd family or Cucurbitaceae, forming a large caudex from which creeper deciduous vines characterized by tendrils emerge. The leaves are lobed, finely hairy, and semi-succulent and die back in the dry season and during prolonged periods of drought. Cultivated specimens are rare and sought after.
Derivation of specific name. 'pubescens' Latin, pubescent, finely hairy, downy; for the pubescent leaves.
Tuber (caudex): flattened roughly circular in cross-section, about 20-30 cm in diameter, exceptionally up to 1 metre, succulent with silver-grey to yellowish outer layers which is textured with small bumps, grown above ground in cultivation, from which extend vine-like branches several metres long.
Leaves: Petiolate, 30-40 mm long, 20-30 mm wide, lamina thick, densely velvety-pubescent, with a one of its kind or subhastata triangle, the base subcordata.
Flower: Green-Yellow. Male flowers small racemes. Stamens 4, anthers unilocular, reniform, horizontal.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Werner Rauh, Herman Schwartz “Succulent and xerophytic plants of Madagascar”, Volume 2 Strawberry Press, 1998
2) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
3) Werner Rauh, (1996). “Observations complementaires sur Xerosicyos pubescens (Cucurbitaceae) de Madagascar” Bulletin du Museum national d'Histoite nature. , Paris, 4e ser., 18, Section B, n° 1-2:161-166
4) Gordon D. Rowley “The illustrated encyclopedia of succulents” Crown Publishers, 01 August 1978
5) Gordon D. Rowley, G. (2002). “Zygosicyos pubescens (Curcuttitaceae), reclassified and renamed.” Cactus and Succulent Journal 74(6): 273.
6) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer Science & Business Media, 29 June 2013
7) “Xerosicyos pubescens sp. nov.” Keraudren in Bull. Soc. Bot. France 111: 182. 1965
8) Wikipedia contributors. "Xerosicyos." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Nov. 2015. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.
9) Bihrmann, (undated). http://www.bihrmann.com/caudiciforms/subs/xer-pub-sub.asp
10) “Inclusion of Zygosicyos pubescens in appendix II” CITES CoP15 Prop.26 http://www.trafficj.org/cop15/pdf/CoP15_Prop26_Analysis.pdf
11) Alan Weiss “Succulent plants of Cucurbitaceae family” Espina y flores, newsletter of the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society, Volume XXXIV, number 3, pp10-15, March 13, 1999
Zygosicyos pubescens grown form seeds. Photo by: © Plantemania
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Cultivation and Propagation: This plant can take a good deal of water during active growth, and should be watered only when not dormant. Keep dryish in winter. This plant should be over-wintered in the greenhouse at temperatures over 12°C (avoid letting temperatures drop lower than 5° C). Use a very draining but rich soil, and not too much sun. Errors in cultivation may produce unsightly holes in the tuber.
Reproduction: Can be reproduced both by cuttings and seeds. Cuttings don't normally grow caudexes (but sometimes do!)
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