Zygosicyos tripartitus (2008)

By Wayne Erickson (August 2008)

Zygosicyos tripartitus, a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, comes from Madagascar’s southwest mountain slopes. The world’s fourth-largest island, called the Great Red Island or “Island at the End of the Earth,” Madagascar lies 250 miles to the east of Africa. Due to the Continental Divide, Madagascar can boast that 85 percent of its plants are exclusive to the island. The annual temperature is 77 to 86 degrees in summer.

Z. tripartitus is a succulent first discovered in 1945 by Humbert. Its caudex – round and globular, but with a flattened base – grows to 30 cm with silvery-gray, corky bark. It sprouts perennial, tuberous, climbing vines with tiny, pale-yellow flowers.

Found on mountain slopes with rich soil, Z. tripartitus get little water and not much sun. The plants sprout seeds, but can be reproduced from cuttings. Z. tripartitus can sunburn easily if not moved out to shade first, then later to full sun.