Fockea edulis (2014)

PhotoBy Donna J. Hess (September 2014)

In July, at my first Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society meeting, I was the lucky recipient of the Plant of the Month. The plant I received – Fockea edulis – is native to South Africa and southern Africa.

Fockea edulis is one of the species of the Asclepiadaceae or the milkweed family. The underground caudices of the plants can grow in excess of 21 inches in diameter and weight over 100 pounds. Under cultivation, the growth rate is more modest.

The plant produces a branching tangle of vining stems. The leaves are a dark, glossy green, oval to lance-shaped, 1 to 2 inches in length and about 1 inch wide. The leaf margins may be undulating. The caudex is textured, with a pebbly or warty surface, which can vary from a purplish brown to a pale brown or gray coloration.

Fockea edulis responds well to general guidelines for growing succulent plants, e.g., freely draining potting medium, which dries quickly. This plant will not tolerate frosts.

Fokea edulis is one of the most popular caudex plants for anyone interested in growing caudiciforms.