The Caudex – Fatty Plants – The Caudex – Succulent

Succulent plants have specialised in surviving in the most extreme climates of the earth, with very little rainfall and temperatures that often vary widely from day to night; in conditions of this type, only a modification in the tissues allows many plants to vegetate, bloom and bear fruit. Usually we are used to thinking of succulents such as cacti or crassulae, with green stems and leaves, fleshy, full of water as a reserve ready for the development of the plant in periods of extreme drought.

However, there are other types of succulent plants, many of which are difficult to find in nurseries, but no less fascinating; in fact, many fans of succulent plants tend to collect even plants with different types of succulence than those we are used to seeing.


Caudiciform plants

adenium Some plants develop their succulence in the woody stem, which swells to form a sort of bottle, sheltered from the outside by a thicker or less thicker bark; this conformation of the stem is called caudex. The caudex to be seen looks like a big tuber, thick and fleshy; the plants with caudex develop a very broad stem, often roundish, very similar in the “look” to the stem of a tree, therefore without foliage, woody and without ramifications if not at the top end.

This stem actually works just like a bottle, or better as a bag for water: in periods of rain it swells, storing water; in periods of drought the plant uses water inside the stem, which tends to deflate slightly.

In the wild some caudex plants live constantly underground, in order to be even more protected from the hostile climate; many plants equipped with caudex then have flexible and light stems, which remind those of a climber, this because the climate, the animals or even the fires can also completely ruin all the aerial part, which begins to develop again as soon as the climatic conditions make it possible; these plants must therefore vegetate very quickly, in order to have the possibility to produce sufficient leaves for the photosynthetic activity, which does not happen in the woody caudex.

The appearance of plants with caudex is not considered beautiful by anyone, we say that they are mostly bizarre plants; in fact often to a swollen and wooden caudex, as if it were an enormous hard and woody potato, is accompanied by lush vegetation, with long fickle stems, or ramifications erect with large leaves.

The plants with caudex belong to different families, the most common are certainly the fockea edulis, a plant of African origin where the fleshy caudex is used as food, also very common adenium, which combine the particularity of caudex to a beautiful flowering.

Other plants with caudex belong to particular species of plants more common in cultivation, such as some species of jatropha, some species of Adenia, some species of ipomea; others are really bizarre plants, difficult to find, suitable only for a few collectors: sarcocaulon, and pachypodium for example.

  • Monadenium invenustum a genus that includes about fifty species of succulent plants originating in Africa. The various species have often very different characteristics, in fact there are species with succulent stems, with a very good…
  • astrophytum These plants, even if belonging to different Botanical Families, have in common the adaptation to arid climatic environments. In order to survive in such adverse places, almost all of them have had to leave the country.

  • piante grasse They are generally called cacti or succulent plants, in fact it would be more correct to call them succulent; they are all those plants adapted to life in arid or subarid climates, having translated the…
  • fiori colorati Most succulent plants develop a compact root system with slow growth, which is why they are grown in containers of small size, despite these characteristics, they are not only a…

The Caudex: The Pachicauli plants

Fockea The most common species of pachypodium, on the contrary, like many other plants, develop another type of succulence of the stem, and are called pachicauli; these plants have an enlarged and fleshy stem, as well as the branches, only the leaves are not succulent; often, moreover, stem and ramifications of the pachicauli plants maintain their photosynthetic activity, and therefore appear green, not completely lignified.


Lingua di suocera - Epiphyllum

Calancola - Kalanchoe blossfeldiana