This southern Madagascan asclepiad isn't particularly attractive in terms of growth form, and is mostly of interest for its flowers.
Growth Habit: Sprawling, leafless stringy stems about 1/8" (3mm) in diameter. In habitat, the stems grow to several feet in length. In cultivation, up to eight feet or more.
Scientific name: Cynanchum marnierianum Rauh
Etymology: The generic (genus) name is from the Greek 'kynos' ("dog") and 'anchien' ("to choke"). Sorry dog lovers!
Taxonomy: Complicated. Species from the formerly-described genera Karimbolea, Folotsia and Platykleba are now included in Cynanchum, one of the genera described by Linnaeus, but this genus is now being broken up again on the basis of phylogenetic studies. This species was described by Werner Rauh (Rauh) in 1970.
Distribution: Endemic to (only found in) Southern Madagascar.
Habitat: Forest and semi-arid forest woodlands.
Cultivation: A very easy grower, especially in terms of light. It doesn't like full sun, but rather prefers semi-shade. As for watering, don't let it go completely dry for more than a day or two during the summer -- keep in mind how thin its stems are. You may find advice to keep it completely dry over winter, but I think that's wrong. In my experience, it needs fairly generous watering during the winter, at least a good drink every week to 10 days, assuming well-draining soil and a minimum temp of 50 degrees.
It's very forgiving in culture, and almost impossible to over-water. If you notice stems drying up, just water it more, and they will soon be replaced. This species doesn't seem to need a dormant period.
Flowers: Unique, even for an asclepiad. Dainty (about 1/4") in diameter, with tiny little green arms that meet in the middle. Once the flowers start to fade, the little arms withdraw and look like little octopi (quinquopi?). My plants always flower in late November to mid-December.
Minimum temperature: Some sites recommend a temperature just above freezing, but I would recommend keeping it above 50 degrees, in keeping with its native habitat.
Conservation Status: Not protected. This species is common in cultivation.
Observations: This species is very easy to propagate. Cuttings root quickly both in soil and in water.
A more in-depth look at individual succulent species, a new one is added each week.
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