Caralluma R.Brown

Named from the Arabian 'qarh alluhum', a flesh wound or abscess; for the floral odour of some species. Caralluma has a wide distribution from the dry regions of tropical Asia, the southern Mediterranean, Near East and in northern, central and eastern Africa.  The Indian Caralluma species were among the first Asclepiads to be described.  Like most Asclepiads they require a free draining compost and a winter rest, with a minimum temperature of around 10C.

Caralluma adscendens v. adscendens X C. adscendens v. attenuata

This is a naturally occurring hybrid from India, where Caralluma adscendens v. attenuata is the dominating variety of the sub-continent.  The flowers are borne in succession at the tips of the sharply four angled stems.

Caralluma adscendens v. geniculata

Part of a very variable complex from India, this species is probably closer related to C. bhupinderiana than to C. adscendens

Caralluma arachnoidea v. arachnoidea

From Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania this fascinating species bears its characteristic flowers on vastly elongated stem tips, the flowers opening in succession as the stem elongates.

Caralluma burchardii ssp burchardii

Found only on the Canary Islands of Fuerteventura, Lanzerote and Gran Canaria. Although it has an unusual corona and gynostegium this species belongs to the europaea-hexagona group. The plant pictured was grown from seed from Jol Lod, collected at Jameos del Agua on Lanzerote

Caralluma burchardii ssp maura

Found only in Morocco, ssp maura differs from ssp burchardii in having shorter stems with more compressed ribs.  The flowers have a characteristic golden yellow corona.

Caralluma dicapuae

It is a mystery to me how this species found in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Kenya, is pollinated as the flowers never seem to open any further than those pictured.  Again this species flowers successionally as the stems elongate. From warmer areas this species benefits from a higher winter temperature.

Caralluma edulis 

The type locality of this species is in the Punjab in India but it is also found in a wide distribution area which also includes Pakistan, Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania, and the Dhalak Archipelago in the Red Sea . 

Caralluma flavovirens

Endemic to the inselbergs of the coastal provinces of Kenya, this species is related to C. arachnoidea and C. gracilipes. The plant pictured is from Kisimu Rock, Taita, Kenya

Caralluma frerei (Frerea indica)

In 1865 Dalzell described as Frerea indica, a unique monotypic Stapeliad, from Poonah and Maharashtra in north west India, having a tuberous root system bearing rounded stems with persistent leaves.

Much to my surprise in 1958 Gordon Rowley was allowed to transfer the genus into Caralluma as Caralluma frerei apparently without protest from any of his peer taxonomists, either at the time nor since. Undoubtedly Frerea indica has a similar flower morphology as, in cultivation, it readily produces hybrids with several Carallumas. However there, as far as I can see, the similarity ends and I for one will continue to refer to this plant as Frerea indica.

In habitat the shrubbily branched rounded stems grow as ground cover.  In cultivation it can be grown as a hanging basket where it will happily flower over a long period each year on new growth. During the growing season it likes plenty of water and in winter when the old growth sheds its leaves, it should be watered sparingly on bright days to prevent the stems from shrivelling.


Caralluma frerei hybrids

Although not making hybrids in nature, Caralluma frerei makes a number of attractive hybrid cultivars. Asc806 is of unknown parentage, but shows much more of the influence of Caralluma frerei in its large persistent leaves and flower colouration, compared to the hybrid with Caralluma europaea, which whilst keeping the persistent leaves and growth habit of Caralluma frerei, has the squarer stems and flower characteristics of Caralluma europaea . Cultivation for the hybrids is as for Caralluma frerei .

Caralluma indica

Coming, as the name suggests from the same continent, this species should not be confused with Caralluma frerei (syn. Frerea indica). The distribution is in the southern state of Tamil Nadu .

Caralluma hexagona

This is a very variable species as it now takes in many of the species previously split off to form the genus Sulcolluma i.e. S. hexagona, S. hexagona var. septentrionalis, S. foulcheri-delboscii, S. foulcheri-delboscii var. greenbergiana, S. shadhbana, and S. shadhbana var. barhana . This gives the species Caralluma hexagona a large distribution area taking in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.  The Caralluma shadhbana  plant pictured was grown from IAS1853 seed collected by Giuseppe Orlando at Mahwit in Yemen, whilst the Caralluma foulcheri-delboscii is RH879 from 17km E. of Huwayrah,Yemen 

Caralluma joannis

Found only in Morocco, this species can be either erect or pendant depending on its habitat. In cultivation it tends to be pendant, producing  hanging dark green stems. This is a sister species to Caralluma europaea.

Caralluma procumbens

A vigorously growing species from southern India whose four angled stems can reach almost two meters in length. The sparse flowers appear in umbels at the stem ends. 

Caralluma sinaica

Unsurprisingly the type locality of this species is the Sinai region of Egypt, but it can also be found in Sudan, Israel, north west Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  The delicate dark pinkish flowers are borne successively on the elongated stems which are richly branched to form shrubby clumps. This species also requires a warmer winter temperature. The plants shown are both from Yemen, Clone 1 - Foothills of Maraz Mountains, Al Maghraba, Clone 2 - Al Barh, 50km W. of Taizz

Caralluma stalagmifera

This species from Madras, India, forms part of the Caralluma adscendens complex and readily forms a natural hybrid with C. adscendens var gracilis.

Caralluma turneri ssp turneri

Found in Ethiopia, Kenya and eastern Uganda this is one of the Carallumas at one time going under the name of Spathulopetalum ;  with its pendent seemingly unopening flower it is obviously closely related to Caralluma dicapuae . The plant pictured was grown from IAS1501 seed collected by Maria Dodds at Amaya in Kenya

Caralluma turneri ssp ukambensis

This subspecies with its more slender stems and delicate flowers is found only in southern Kenya.