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What is a Caudex?
The term "caudex" is used in botany to describe the thickened, woody caudiciform stem of a plant that grows just above or below the ground. The caudex is an important part of the plant, providing support and storing nutrients and water for periods of drought.
Caudexes are often highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts of rare and unusual plants, and many species of plants with caudexes have become increasingly popular as ornamental plants the last couple of years. However, the price of caudex plants can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including their rarity, growing rate, age, propagation difficulty, and ornamental value.
How does the caudex work?
Caudexes can be found in a wide range of plant families, including succulents, trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Some well-known examples of plants with caudexes include the baobab tree, the ponytail palm, and the adenium.
One of the primary functions of the caudex is to store water, nutrients and energy for the plant. In many caudex plants, the thickened stem acts as a reservoir, storing essential nutrients and water that the plant can draw upon during periods of drought or other environmental stress. This can be an important mechanism for the survival and propagation of the plant, particularly in harsh or unpredictable environments.
The caudex also serves as a structural support for the plant, helping to anchor it firmly in the ground and providing a stable base for the growth of leaves, branches, and flowers.
One of the most interesting features of caudexes is their ability to grow over time, increasing in size and becoming more complex as the plant ages. In some cases, the caudex can grow so large that it becomes the most prominent part of the plant.
One of the challenges of growing plants with caudexes is that some species require a unique set of growing conditions. For example, many caudex plants are adapted to dry, desert-like environments, with distinct seasons of drought or rain, and some may require infrequent watering and well-draining soil to thrive. You can find more information about your plants needs in the Plant info tab.
Additionally, some caudex plants go dormant and needs special care during the dormancy. Caring for a dormant caudex bulb will be somewhat different from caring for a plant that is actively growing. Here are some tips to help you care for your dormant caudex bulb:
Keep the bulb dry: Many caudex plants go dormant during the winter months, and it is important to keep the bulb dry during this period. Avoid watering the bulb or exposing it to moisture, as this can cause the bulb to rot or develop fungal infections.
Store the bulb in a cool, dry place: The ideal temperature for storing dormant caudex bulbs is between 50-60°F (10-15°C). Store the bulb in a cool, dry location, such as a basement or garage, and protect it from extreme temperatures, humidity, and direct sunlight.
Avoid disturbing the bulb: During the dormant period, it is best to avoid disturbing the bulb or repotting it. This can disrupt the plant's natural growth cycle and cause stress that can affect its ability to regrow in the spring.
Check the bulb periodically: While the bulb is dormant, it is a good idea to check it periodically to ensure that it is not rotting or developing any signs of disease or damage. If you notice any issues, such as soft spots or discoloration, take immediate actions.
Resume watering and feeding in the spring: When the growing season begins in the spring, start with bringing your plant out to a brighter and warmer spot. When it starts to sprout and grow again you can resume watering and feeding the caudex plant, according to its specific needs. Be sure to gradually reintroduce water and fertilizer to avoid shock to the plant. This is also the best time to repot your caudex if needed.
Why the price of caudex plants can vary a lot
As interest in rare and unusual plants continues to grow, the popularity of caudex plants has also increased, making them a valuable addition to any collection of unique and unusual plants.
Caudex plants can sometimes be more expensive than other types of plants for a variety of reasons.
First, many caudex plants are slow-growing, meaning that it can take years or even decades for them to reach a size that is desirable for collectors or ornamental purposes. This means that the plants require a lot of time and care, which can drive up their price.
Second, some species of caudex plants are rare or difficult to propagate, which can make them more expensive. For example, some species can only be propagated from cuttings, and it can take a long time for the cuttings to establish roots and grow into mature plants. Meanwhile other species of won't produce any caudex from cuttings and some species are only possible to propagate through seeds.
Finally, some caudex plants are also rare or endangered in their natural habitats, which can drive up the price of cultivated specimens. In some cases, the cultivation of caudex plants can also help to preserve rare or endangered species, making them valuable for conservation purposes.
Overall, the price of caudex plants can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including their rarity, propagation difficulty, and ornamental value. However, for collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate the unique beauty and characteristics of these plants, the cost can be well worth it.
Here are some examples of plants that produce caudexes:
There are many species that produces a caudiciform stem. Here follows a list, to name a few. Some more common as house plants than others. Perfect to botanize through in search of new interesting plants to collect.
Dorstenia hildebrandtii, D.foetida, D.lancifolia,
Euphorbia caput-medusae, E.ambovombensis, E.stellata, E.decaryi, E.trichadenia
Ficus petiolaris, F.palmeri, F.burkei, F.abutifoliia
Fockea edulis. F.camura, F.natalensis
Ibervillea tenuisecta. I.sonorae
Ipomoea simplex, I.bolusiana, I.bullata
Jatropha podgarica, J.macrorhiza, J.cathartica
Pachypodium lealii, P.lamerei, P.saundersii, P.succulentum, P.geayi
Sinningia leucotricha, S.speciosa, S.cardinalis, S.brasiliensis, S.bullata, S.guttata, S.eumorpha, S.iarae
Stephania erecta, S.cephalantha, S.rotundifolia, S.glabra
Trichodiadema bulbosum, T.densum, T.fergusoniae