Caralluma speciosa flowers in the succulent collection. 

Caralluma speciosa is an East-African plant from the Oleander family (Apocynaceae; formerly Asclepiadaceae), to which also belong Calotropis procera (Sodom’s apple) and Nerium oleander. This is a succulent plant that stores water in its green and fleshy stems, while its leaves degenerate and modify to tiny thorns. It resembles a cactus in its morphology, but belongs to a very distant family. Such succulent modifications have evolved independently in different un-related groups of plants as an adaptation to life in arid habitats. Only two cactus-like succulent plant species grow in Israel, both of which are other Caralluma species.

Caralluma speciosa is now flowering in the garden’s succulent collection, displaying a surprising chocolate-brown and yellow colour, with interesting shades and patterns. Although its odour is unpleasant, resembling a sewer, this presents a fragrant attractant for flies, which serve as pollinators.  

Photo: Merav Lebel

Photo: Merav Lebel

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