Diderea trollii, octopus tree, help

Fri May 20 11:49:24 EST 1994

In article <2reohb$58c at kauri.itd.adelaide.edu.au>,
rbonfigl at waite.adelaide.edu.au (Rod Bonfiglioli) writes:
>does anyone know anything about this tree.  a colleague of mine wishes to go to
>madagascar, and while he is there he wishes to check this treee out.  Diderea
>trollii is apparently a true cactus, it is also thought to be present as a
>native in north amereica as well as madagascar!!  if anyone knows anything about
>this tree, especially about when it flowers, seeds or its habitat peculiarities,
>i would be most interested to hear from you.
>thanx in advance
>Rod Bonfiglioli, Waite Agricultural Research Institute,
>University of Adelaide, South Australia.
>e-mail rbonfigl at waite.adelaide.edu.au


You have been given some erroneous information!

     While Didieria trollii is indeed a woody woody succulent plant,
it certainly is NOT a cactus, although the Cactaceae and
Didieriaceae are related (together with the Basellaceae and
Portulacaceae) within the Order Caryophylles (Centrospermae).  All
members of the Didieriaceae are endemic to Madagascar (4 genera, ca
13 spp.) and none have been found naturally occurring in North
America (except in botanical gardens, naturally!).

     All members of this family are listed on CITES Appendix I, and
export of them from Madagascar is quite problematic at best.
Additionally, due to habitat destruction and other development, the
remaining xeric forests which contain the members of this family
furtherthreaten their existence.   I suspect that leaf-out and
flowering time will coincide with the middle to end of the rainy
season, however this should be verified by contacting local

    Since I don't know what you mean by your colleague going to
"check this plant out", I can offer no further advice.  Be warned
that contacts with necessary conservation authorities in the capital
should be obtained for scientific or other operations PRIOR to
arrival.  The dideria family is a particularly interesting one, and
unfortunatley its evolution on Madagascar (along with thousands of
other endemic species) is likely to take a  drastic turn for the
worse in the near future unless conservation efforts within the
country are activated and enforced.

     I hope this helped you a bit, given the limited information you
provided.  Good luck.

     Dr. Robert S. Wallace    s1.rsw at isumvs.iastate.edu
     Department of Botany
     Iowa State University

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