Madagascar’s Spiny Forest

November 19, 2008 Sarada Krishnan , Director of Horticulture & Center for Global Initiatives

Pachypodium Lamerei1Adansonia za  Euphorbia  Stenoclada During my current visit to Madagascar, I had the enviable opportunity to visit the unique spiny desert ecosystem, located in the south and southwestern part of the country. What amazing diversity! Hot though it may have been, I am sure glad I made the time to visit this unique forest, which is home to many of Madagascar’s endemic species. The landscape is dominated by plants belonging to the family Didieraceae. Noteworthy are the Alluaudia that stand as tall sentinels of the forest. They remind me of the Saguaro cactus of the Sonoran Desert. Of the six species of Alluaudia in Madagascar, I was able to see four. Other interesting plants that I encountered were three species of Pachypodium, one species of Baobab (Adansonia za), two arborescent (tree-form) species of Euphorbia, three species of Kalanchoe, a succulent cucurbit vine and an Aloe, among others. I was fortunate to have the expert local Botanist Franck Rakotonasolo accompany me on my trip, who helped with most of the plant identification. We have a few Madagascan species that are represented in Denver Botanic Gardens' Cactus & Succulent collections, though the opportunity to expand this collection is tremendous.


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