Recently, on a visit to the amazing Kartuz Greenhouses in Vista, CA, I came across these dreamy beaming sunburstin' blooms. These flowers were sunshine supernova-ing all over the strikingly sculptural structure of a plant and pumpin' out some positive vibes in the stillness of the greenhouse. The plant that I'm speaking of is called Uncarina grandidieri sometimes commonly referred to as the Mousetrap Tree. It's a rather nifty succulent plant that comes to us from the island of Madagascar. Madagascar is home to some of the most unique plants and animals in the world! Uncarina grandidieri, a member of the Sesame family, is definitely a beautiful example of this biodiversity.
Uncarina grandidieri is in the group of plants known as caudiciform or fat plants. These are a group of succulent plants that store water and nutrients in their swollen trunk or roots. In its youth, the swollen roots and trunk of this plant remind me a bit of a taffy pull. Crazy, ropey forms of root look as if they are pulled every which way. The look is beautifully strange and a bit sci-fi. Uncarina grandidieri is considered a deciduous tree. It can be kept small in a container or given room in a large vessel or the ground where it can grow up to 10-12 feet tall with a canopy reaching up to 8 or so feet wide. During its growing period it produces soft, sticky, velvety green foliage with rich red margins. Spring through autumn it produces fuzzy buds that bloom as boldly sleek and unique 2" flowers with deep yellow color and rich rouge-black throats. The face of the flower tends to present itself in a flattened platform-like way providing a runway for those jet set pollinating insects. The plant gets its common name from the seed pods that form after flowering. It produces husky, bulbous pods with small stalk-like structures tipped with inward pointed barbs that are designed to stick or latch to anything. The pods are very architectural.
Uncarina grandidieri likes to grow in full sun or bright shade conditions outdoors and bright light conditions indoors. It grows best in a well draining soil or cactus mix, likes regular water during its growing periods, does best kept dry during its winter dormancy, becomes drought tolerant once established, and is hardy down to around 32 degrees fahrenheit/0 degrees celsius. I like seeing it small as a houseplant in a container but if you live in a warm region, seeing it get large and tree-like in the ground is an extraordinary sight! This is a plant for those who like a little something different going on in their garden. Very unusual!