Desert Roses are also referred to as Adenium Arabicum, Mock Azalea, Impala Lily, Kudu Lily and Sabi Star. 

All are native to semi-arid climates, such as Eastern Africa and Southern Arabia. The name Adenium is derived from the Arabic name for the plant, Oddaejn, which means Aden, the former name for Yemen. 

Some scientists believe there is only one species of Adenium, and several subspecies, while others assign separate species status to certain varieties. These are the main ‘species’ or ‘subspecies.’ 

1. Adenium Obesum Arabicum • Adenium Obesum Arabicum, as its name suggests, comes from the Arabian Peninsula, especially Saudi Arabia and Yemen. This is somewhat variable and it is possible that there are actually two different plants coming from this area. One form, from Saudi Arabia, is quite tall, up to 12 feet, and somewhat similar to A. somalense. The other form is low, with somewhat reclining stems branching from a spherical basal caudex that can be as much as 3 ft. in diameter! 

2. Adenium Obesum Boehmianum • Adenium Obesum Boehmianum derives from from northwestern Namibia and southern Angola. This is also a slow-growing species, and must be several years old before flowering. The flowers are usually of a uniform pale pinkish-purple. This is also available, but not frequently grown. 

3. Ademim Obesum Multiflorum • Ademim Obesum Multiflorum has a more slender trunk than Adenium obesum, and is subject to a deciduous, winter dormancy. The flowers are abundant and striking, with petals edged in a bright red band of varying widths, sharply delineated from the white inner parts. 

4. Adenium Obesum Oleifolium • Adenium Obesum Oleifolium is another smaller species, with an underground caudex and a few stems to two feet tall. It comes from the Kalahari Desert of southern Botswana, and northern Namibia and South Africa. It is a slow growing species with relatively small flowers. It is available in the nursery trade but not often cultivated 

5. Adenium Obesum Socotranum • Adenium socotranum originates from the isolated island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean south of the Arabian peninsula and east of the Horn of Africa. They grow massive trunks, up to 10 ft tall and 8 ft in diameter, and are difficult to find. For many years Socotra was a Soviet naval port, which restricted the availability of plants and seeds. Adenium socotranum occurs by the thousands in nature, but relatively few plants exist in cultivation. Nurseries and botanic gardens are starting to propagate this Adenium, they are still considered rare and expensive! 

6. Adenium Obesum Somalense • Adenium somalense is another variable species. It occurs from Somalia south into Kenya and Tanzania. In Somalia and adjacent areas of Kenya this plant grows to 15 feet tall, with a massively swollen trunk. In other areas, it is similar to Adenium Obesum, and makes an excellent bonsai. 


 
7. Adenium Obesum Swazicum • Adenium swazicum is comes from Swaziland and adjacent areas in eastern South Africa and Mozambique. The flowers are uniform in color, varying from pale to deep pink to pinkish purple. Blooming is normally for a few months in late summer and fall. The stems tend to droop, especially in plants that are overly shaded. 

Description of Adeniums 
 
The Adenium is a perennial succulent that can grow as a shrub or a small tree. It can reach 1-3m tall, though most cultivated hybrids and varieties grow between 0.5-1.5m tall. When treated as a Bonsai, it will grow much shorter. It has a thick grayish trunk called a caudex, which bulges and twists into unique, one of a kind shapes. The caudex is as highly valued as the spectacular flowers, and is what makes the Dessert Rose an excellent Bonsai. It is important to remember that this will only occur if the Adenium is grown from seed. Propagations made from cuttings will not form a decent caudex, although the flowers will be pretty.  
 
The stems are green-gray and flexible, and respond well to pruning. The leaves, of variable shapes and sizes - are green and glossy, or variegated, spirally arranged and clustered at the tips, some lanceolate and tapering, others obovate and bluntly tipped, ranging 5-15cm long and 1-8cm broad. 
 
The 5-petaled flowers are bell-shaped, bloom in of varying sizes, cluster at the stem tips, Some hybrids have double flowers. Extensive hybridization China, Taiwan and Thailand have produced flowers with various shades of white, pink, red, orange and purple.  
They continuously bloom in spring and summer, and can bloom year round in warmer climates, with proper care. They grow well in both arid and humid climates, and store water in their soft roots and stems to survive through periods of drought.  
 
Desert Rose also yield long, thin, bean-like seed pods that are used for propagation. 
 
A noted, experts disagree about what constitutes a species in the genus Adenium. What is clear is that there are a variety of quite different forms that occur in different locations in Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula and the adjacent island of Socotra. Most nurseries recognize several species and forms. The following list was derived from a series of articles in the Cactus and Succulent Journal (see website listed below under "Additional Information"). 
 
Cultivars and Hybrids 
 
Recently, horticulturists have begun selecting improved cultivars or doing hybridizing. Many nurseries in Asia, especially Taiwan and Thailand, have been producing dozens of cultivars, many with unique, non-botanical names. They are selecting for rapid growth, strong plant body, increased flowering season, larger flowers, and new, unique varieties of color and form. U.S. nurserymen are importing such plants to use in their own breeding programs. 
 
Hybridizing Adeniums is resulting in the rapid growth in consumer demand. In the past, there were just common pink obesum, now the color range is variety with white through reds, pinks, yellows, peaches, burgundies, black reds, and black purples. Add to this stripes, shadings, ruffled petals, and even variegated leaves, it is likely that the desert rose will become an even more popular houseplant. 












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