This show-stopping plant is both rare and brilliantly bizarre. It resembles a cactus but boasts a wonderful crown of leaves. At the base are new shoots which have taken on the highly desirable crested form (hence 'cristata'), becoming longitudinal with a ruff or crest of leaves.
The remarkable appearance of P. lamerei cristata is due mainly to its origins, deeply rooted in the western forests of the island of Madagascar. This explains its common name – Madagascan Palm – but only hints at its tenacious approach to life.
It is not a palm but a shrubby, stem succulent. The silvery, thickened trunk or stem (Pachypodium literally translates as ‘thick footed') hides secrets: Not only can it photosynthesise like its leaves, but it is thickened to retain water in times of drought. Along its length spines, arranged in a three-formation, maximise any possible water collection from the air, which then drops into the soil. In addition (good for having at home) beneath the spines in the trunk are small holes called stomata, which open in the night to take in CO2 from the atmosphere.
(Research is not conclusive, but John Wyndham may have owned one of these plants.)
Pot size: 21cm
Due to limited availability, in store purchase only.
Common name: Madagascan Palm, Crested Madagascan Palm
Dimensions: H: 50cm, W:25cm
Position: Inside in sunny or bright spot
Care: Water very sparingly during the winter months, but do not allow the soil completely to dry out in the summer (it will survive drought but not thrive). Do not let the temperature drop below 10 degrees. Feed sparingly, a weak solution of fertilizer twice a year during the growing season only.