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Accepted Scientific Name: Uncarina peltata (Baker) Stapf
Nat. Pflanzenfam. [Engler & Prantl] 4, 3b: :261, f. 99E (1895) Engl. & Prantl
Origin and Habitat: North west Madagascar (Mahajanga, Antsiranana).
Habitat and ecology: Uncarina peltata grows between basaltic rocks and on limestone plates accompanied by Pachypodium rutenbergianum, Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri, Euphorbia pauliana and Euphorbia pedilanthoides.
ENGLISH: Mouse Trap Tree, Succulent Sesame, Malagasy Fire Bush
RUSSIAN (Русский): Ункарина пельтата
SWEDISH (Svenska): Flasksesamsläktet
Description: Uncarina peltata is a caudex shrub or mall tree with sparsely branched crown that grows to 2.5(-3) m tall. Leaves are large soft and velvety. Flower is a golden trumpet with a deep purple throat and resemble petunias or morning glories. The dry fruits have numerous long, slender bristles, each terminated by four small, recurved hooks. One of these fruits attached to fur or clothing is very hard to dislodge.
Note: The epithet `peltata' (= peltate, shield-shaped) is misleading, as the leaves of this species are only occasionally slightly peltate.
Rootstock (caudex): The caudex (a storage stem, actually a distinctly swollen hypocotyl, the portion of the stem below where its cotyledons were attached and fell away in the seedling's infancy) is very large, tuber-like irregularly shaped and subterranean. In cultivation the thickened rootstock is periodically lifted to creates a cool, gnarled bonsai look.
Leaves: Leaf-lamina up to 25 cm long and wide, rounded-triangular with 5 to 9 tooth-shaped lobes or leaf-margin only sligtly sinuate, but occasionally deeply lobed, upper face with sparse long simple hairs, lower face with long simple hairs mainly along the major veins, sometimes with reduced head, and short mucilage-glands with quadrangular head mainly along the minor veins. The leaves are deciduous during the winter resting season.
Inflorescence: Cymes with (2-) 5 - 10 flowers, forming dense clusters.
Flowers: Orange-yellow, throat purple-red, tube approx 4 cm long.
Blooming season: It's a good bloomer in the spring.
Fruits (capsule): Laterally much compressed, body in lateral view ovate and with a long narrow acute beak, to 5 cm long and 4 cm broad. Bristly-spines approx 7 in each row, to 13 mm, not overtopping the beak, bases longitudinally much broadened and fused, forming crests to 4 mm high, each terminated by four small, recurved hooks that cling to the hide on fur of passing animals. False septa absent. The fruits are very similar to those of Uncarina perrieri and Uncarina leptocarpa.
Seeds: Rounded-triangular, wings 1.5 mm. A very variable species with a large distribution area.
Similar plant: A form of Uncarina with whole and not dissected leaves has been sold as U. peltata for years, but in fact is a variety of the variable Uncarina decaryi.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons” Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
2) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
3) Gordon Rowley “Caudiciform and Pachycaul Succulents: Pachycauls, Bottle-,Barrel-And Elephant-Trees and Their Kin a Collector's Miscellany” Strawberry Press. June 1st 1987
4) Clive Innes “Complete Handbook of Cacti and Succulents” Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 01/Dec/1981
5) “Yearbook of Agriculture” U.S. Government Printing Office, 1894
6) “Seeds” U.S. Government Printing Office, 1961
7) Humbert, H. “Pedaliacees.” Fl. Madagasc. 179: 5–46. 1971
8) Schatz, G. E., S. Andriambololonera, Andrianarivelo, M. W. Callmander, Faranirina, P. P. Lowry, P. B. Phillipson, Rabarimanarivo, J. I. Raharilala, Rajaonary, Rakotonirina, R. H. Ramananjanahary, B. Ramandimbisoa, A. Randrianasolo, N. Ravololomanana, Z.S. Rogers, C.M. Taylor & G. A. Wahlert. “Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar.” Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 2011
Cultivation and Propagation: Uncarinias are easy to grow heat resistant plant, which grow better than the average. Their attractiveness is further enhanced because they will flourish very easily in any pseudo-tropical environment. It can tolerate neglect, and as soon as you pay it a little attention (like repotting or fertilizing) it recovers and puts out plentiful new growth. They will tolerate intense heat and sun, when provided with adequate water, but must be protected from frost.
Growth rate: These plants can grow quite quickly if provided with adequate water, warmth and root run.
Soil: It needs a a rich, very well drained potting medium (add pumice, vulcanite, and perlite).
Waterings: It should be watered plentifully in Summer and kept drier in Winter. This species like all Uncarinias, is sensitive to excess moisture, and should be kept on the dry side. It rot easily and do not like any water when it has no leaves.
Fertilization: Use diluted fertilizer on young plants to speed up growth.
Exposure: They do best when grown in part shade to full sun. G
Hardiness: Due to their Madagascan origin keep warm in winter, the minimum safe average temperature is 10°C, although they can go lower for short periods (cannot endure temperatures below 2° C). If grown outdoors they will probably grow back from roots, if frozen. They are quite heat tolerant, and survive easily temps above 45° in summer, without dropping leaves.
Bonsai/caudex culture: Lifting the thickened root system periodically creates a cool, gnarled bonsai look.
Reproduction: Seeds, and they can be reproduced by cuttings as well.
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