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Albuquerque Innsights

Former New Mexico innkeeper knows secrets and tells anyone who will listen.

Desert Rose, My Reproducing Hermaphrodite!

I was reminded  by a tv show that I promised to write about more strange plants at Adobe Nido Bed and Breakfast. While watching Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations the other day, as I am prone to do, over and over,  the very last image on his segment about Sri Lanka woke me out of my travel-through-others stupor. It was an image of a flower that I have growing here, and it is a beauty. The common name is Desert Rose, and the proper name is Adenium obesum. Obesum – obese? – I didn’t get that at all until I looked at the images I could find on the internet. These plants had gigantic roots that looked like they had a bad case of Elephantitis.

I bought my Desert Rose at a nursery here in Albuquerque when I was playing around with bonsai. I was looking for a plant with an unusual root structure above ground level. I had never heard of this plant before but it intrigued me, so I bought it. When I got home I discovered that the roots of my particular plant were even more unusual than I had first seen. It looks like a human hermaphrodite, or at very least, strangely transsexual, and it draws many comments here at the b&b when people happen upon it.

I have to grow it indoors in the winter, and that takes it’s toll on it. By the time I can put it outdoors in the spring it has lost almost all it’s leaves. It recovers quickly. I have had it since around 1999, but last summer was the first time it ever flowered – one lone flower made it to maturity. It had a couple of more buds , but they dehydrated and dropped off before opening. This year I had a BUNCH of flowers, and they last several days to over a week, depending on if our humidity gets out of the single digits or not. We had a pretty good run as there were flowers present for a month or more.

The plant is a succulent, native to Africa and Arabia, and very popular in Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, where it seems they like to bonsai them. It is a wonder they named it “Desert Rose”, as it looks nothing like a rose and it doesn’t really grow in the true desert. Go figure. It does like a relatively dry climate, but some humidity helps the flowers, I have observed. Perhaps it likes dry feet and moist face. Being a succulent it can tolerate drought, and some neglect. A perfect houseplant, really.

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Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!

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One Response to “Desert Rose, My Reproducing Hermaphrodite!”

  1. Leigh G. says:

    What a strange plant indeed, but intriguing and beautiful. That bottom shot is spectacular!

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copyright 2009 :: sarah dolk, adobe nido bed and breakfast, albuquerque nm :: photos by susan see, abq, nm & marianne groszko, mariannephotography.net