Operculicaria decaryi (2008)

PhotoBy Susan Carpentier (April 2008)

Operculicaria decaryi is from southwestern Madagascar. H. Perrier first described it in 1944. It was named after the botanical collector Raymond Decary. It is a member of the Anacardiaceae family, which is part of the cashew family.

O. decaryi is a dioecious tree, which means that both male and female plants are needed for fruit. Propagation can be by putting pieces of the tuberous roots or stem cuttings in a moist soil mixture, and the stems may also root in water. The plants have small, dark-red flowers that bloom late in the winter. Half a dozen flowers bloom at the ends of the branches.

O. decaryi grow best in well-drained soil in full to partial sun. Plants grown in greenhouses have leaf color of dark green, and when grown in full sun, the leaves take on an almost black color. The information on the Internet states that too much sun for young trees can cause burning.

O. decaryi grow to tree size in their native Madagascar, reaching heights of 30 feet. O. decaryi is also called the Elephant Tree because the trunk can form bumps and wrinkles or be twisted. These characteristics make for a great bonsai plant.