Alluaudia ascendens

Alluaudia ascendens

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Alluaudia ascendens (Fantsiolotse)

Alluaudia ascendens is a spiny succulent tree with leaves growing directly out from the trunk. It grows up to 40 feet (12 m) tall. Leaves…

Alluaudia Species


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:


Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Dec 22, 2009, CactusJordi from El Cajon, CA wrote:

In the garden in SoCal I lost my 3 plants up to 12 ft tall in January '07 after 4 nights in a row at 24F.

On Nov 5, 2009, Zaragoza from Zaragoza,
Spain (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is fantastic as all Didiereaceae. I have one from 4 years ago. Very difficult to keep in my climate, it looses all leaves in winter and don't grow again until late summer. Last winter I almost lost my plant. Several frost killed the basis. But this summer I cutted it and replanted and it rooted very easily starting again to show leaves.

On May 8, 2007, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Rare in cultivation- a Madagascan succulent growing very upright to 35'. Looks pretty darn similar to Alluaudia montagnacii… not sure what the difference is exactly… the leaves have a more pronounced heart shape to them, but that is pretty subtle difference… the spination is very similar… perhaps flowers are different.

Cultural Codes

Some of you grow only indoors, some only in terrariums many of you have hobby greenhouses while a growing number of customers live in subtropical or tropical areas of the world. These brief codes are an attempt to suggest whether or not a particular plant will do well in your particular conditions.

  • HP - House Plant, performing adequately in the ordinary home
  • CGH - Cool Greenhouse, for ideal growing conditions most low temperature plant rooms would also fall within this code
  • TGH - Tropical Greenhouse, for plants needing constant warmth and higher humidity also would describe growth chamber setup some of you have built in your basements
  • TERR - Terrarium culture is most successful or appropriate
  • HT - Hardy Temperate: winder hardy at least to Zone 7 or to Zone 6
  • HH - Half Hardy, possibly damaged in a prolonged winter, but reliable outdoors in Zone 8
  • HB - Hardy Bulb
  • SSA - Self Sowing Annual
  • y - indicates a plant or groundcover popular in bonsai work
  • h - indicates a bog plant, or an aquatic
  • v - indicates a plant appropriate for terrariums

If an entry has the cluster HP CGH, this means normal house plant culture will be successful if the plant is given a cool CGH moist location however if the entry has the cluster CGH HP, you would interpret this to suggest that while Cool Greenhouse conditions are needed for total success with this plant, House Plant conditions will be adequate, while not ideal. If the cluster is HH CGH you would interpret this to mean that while in Zone 8 or below this will be winter hardy outdoor, further north it will need considerable mulch, a cold frame, or a Cool Greenhouse to thrive. And so on.

Alluaudia ascendens - garden

Origin and Habitat: Southern Madagascar in the area between Tsiombe and Taolanaro (Basin of the Mandrare River.).
Habitat: It grows in dry spiny shrub forest or dry deciduous thicket. These forests are stratified and Alluaudia ascendens occur in the upper canopy mixed with other species like: Adansonia za (Baobab tree), Operculicarya decaryi, Alluaudia procera, Commiphora aprevalii, and Tetrapterocarpon geayi.

Accepted name in llifle Database:
Alluaudia ascendens (Drake) Drake
Bull. Mus. Hist. Nat. (Paris) 9: 37 1903
Synonymy: 2

  • Alluaudia ascendens (Drake) Drake
    • Didierea ascendens Drake
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Alluaudia ascendens f. variegata hort.

Description: Alluaudia ascendens is the tallest species, reaching a maximum height of 15 metres, but it is usually far smaller. It grows initially as a single stem, but then branches forming massive ascending V-shaped crowns. This is the largest of all the Didiereacea. One can recognize this species at a distance by the inflorescences like muffs along the upper portion of the branches.
Trunk: Columnar thick but short, up to 30 cm across, sparsely branched (beginning at 2-4 m), pith lamellar. Branches few nearly vertical. The bark is dull greenish brown, reddish or greyish and resembles unwrinkled elephant skin. The stems carries blunt spines like the knobs on a mace, which circle the trunk along with the leaves, in very vertical helices.
Spines: Persistent, single, 1,5-2 cm long, conical, arranged irregularly along the stems, greyish-white.
Leaves: Short-stalked in spiralling lines, 1,3-2,5 cm long and 10 to 20 mm wide, fleshy, circular or reverse heart-shaped, notched at the apex, dark green, often tinged with purple in full sun.
Flowers: Inconspicuous (rarely seen in cultivation) dull white to reddish in cymose inflorescences up to 12 cm long. Sepals keeled.
Chromosome number: 2n = 240

Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Alluaudia ascendens group

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons” Springer, 2002
2) Hilary Bradt “Madagascar” Bradt Travel Guides, 2011
3) William F. Laurance, Richard O. Bierregaard “Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management, and Conservation of Fragmented Communities” University of Chicago Press, 21/giu/1997
4) Werner Rauh, Herman Schwartz “Succulent and xerophytic plants of Madagascar” Vol. 2 Strawberry Press, 1998
5) Alfred Byrd Graf “Exotica International Series 4: Pictoral Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants from Tropical and Near-tropic Regions : a Treasury of Indoor Ornamentals for Home, the Office, Or Greenhouse : in Warm Climates the Patio and the Garden Outdoors” Roehrs, 1985
6) Alfred Byrd Graf “Tropica: Color Encyclopedia of Exotic Plants and Trees” Roehrs Company, 1986
7) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons” Springer, 2002
8) A. Jolly, P. Oberle, R. Albignac, “Key Environments: Madagascar” Elsevier, 22 gen 2016
8) Comptes Rendus hebdomadaires des Séances de l’Academie des Sciences. Band 133, Paris 1901, S. 241
9) Bulletin du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. Band 9, Paris 1903, S. 37

Cultivation and Propagation: Alluaudia ascendens is probably one of the most rare species in cultivation.
Exposure: It needs full sun or high interior lighting with a very well drained soil mix and freely circulating air.
Watering: Plants are watered and allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again.
Fertilization: If fertilizer is used, it should be diluted to ¼ (one-quarter) the recommended rate on the label.
Hardiness: It is a frost tender species that must be protected in the greenhouse over the winter but established plants should tolerate temperatures as low as 0° C (Avoid any frost!). If grown in the home environment, the ideal temperatures should run between 20° to 30° C with winter time temperatures around 10°C. During the winter months, the plant will drop all of its leaves and no water should be given during this period.
Maintenance: Not freely branching. Once this plant is established in its new pot, it should be cut back to encourage branching. The cutting removed can be rooted easily, and the process repeated. If pruned and kept somewhat pot bound, they can be maintained at a manageable size, depending on what ''manageable size'' means to you. If planted in the landscape however, It will often drop all its leaves when it decides to take a rest. When this happens, cut down on the watering until the leaves start to appear again.
Garden uses: This is a terrific plant for those in warmer, drier areas who want something 'different' looking- maybe even a bit weird. Nothing is quite like it for adding interest to gardens, especially when plants are grown in multiples and allowed to create a mini-forest. It has some tough, sharp spines, but because of its very upright habit, is rarely a problem walking around. In Madagascar, the wood of the plant is used in building and for charcoal.
Propagation: Alluaudia ascendens is propagated from cuttings taken in the spring or from seed when available.

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