Madagascar ocotillo or Alluaudia procera, is a deciduous succulent plant species of the family Didiereaceae. It is endemic to south Madagascar. Although strikingly similar in appearance, it is not closely related to the ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens, of North America). Young alluaudias form a tangle of stems that last for several years after which a strong central stem develops. The basal stems then die out leaving a tree-like stem that branches higher up on the main trunk.
This plant is spiny succulent shrub, with thick water-storing stems and leaves that are deciduous in the long dry season. Like other members of Didiereaceae family, the leaves of Alluaudia, produced from areoles like in cacti, are small, appear single and are accompanied with conical spines. Its flowers are unisexual and radially symmetric.
The Didiereaceae comprise eleven species divided into four genera, of which the largest is Alluaudia (six species). Alluaudia has been subdivided into sections Alluaudia and Androyella. In this way, Alluaudia procera has two sisters, A. asscendens and A. montagnacii. Based on molecular phylogeny conducted Alluaudia, Alluaudiopsis and Didierea from the family are all supported as monophyletic.And relationship within the genus Alluaudia are relevant to the evolution of polyploidy within the family. Researchers haven’t figured out where the Didiereaceae family comes from. However, the nearest relative of the Didiereaceae, Calyptrotheca somalensis, is endemic to East Africa, where the island of Madagascar separated from some 100 million years ago. Thus, the didiereaceae may be presumed to originate from the dispersal to Madagascar of a Calyptrotheca-like East African ancestor.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
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