Ceraria Namaquensis “Namaqua Porkbush”

The Ceraria Namaquensis “Namaqua Porkbush” the natural habitat of this species extends along the Orange River valley, along the border between Namibia and South Africa.

Commonly known as False Portulacaria, Namaqua porkbush, Namaqualand ceraria.

Ceraria namaquensis is a waxy, fleshy and very slow-growing, woody-stemmed desert shrub or small tree. 

It grows from 1.3 to 1.8 (-5) m high and presents a unique appearance. The stems are stout and grow upwards, forking and are covered by many short, spiky semi-deciduous, succulent leaves. 

A profusion of small pink flowers (male and female on different plants) with reflexed petals are seen in spring. 

The occurrence of short shoots (brachyblasts) created some resemblance to a species of Alluaudia (Didiereaceae) of Madagascar.

Habitat and ecology:

Desert, Nama Karoo, Succulent Karoo. 

This is an extremely arid, winter-rainfall area. 

The Ceraria namaquensis grows in open shrubland together with Euphorbia virosa on rocky outcrops, mainly rather strongly weathered gneiss as well as small sparsely scattered quartzitic outcrops. 

This species has tiny leaves to combat moisture loss through transpiration.

These leaves drop off altogether during summer when evaporation is at its greatest and the plant enters a dormant stage. 

It is widespread, common and not in danger of extinction.

Ceraria namaquensis has tiny leaves to combat moisture loss through transpiration. 

These leaves drop off altogether during summer when evaporation is at its greatest and the plant enters a dormant stage.

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Tips to take care of the Ceraria Namaquensis “Namaqua Porkbush”

Flowers

Small, ethereal and attractive, in short, few-flowered, axillary sprays 3-4 cm long, pale pink to deep pink, plant dioecious (sexes separate but apparently on the same plant ). 

Peduncles 13-17 mm long, angular, unbranched.

Pedicels involucrated by some minute ovate bracts, about 4 mm long, solitary or few. 

Calyx 2-phyllous, three times shorter than the 5 rose-colored, obovate, near 2 mm long star-like petals.

 Male flowers with 5 stamens; filaments linear. 

Anthers oblong, emarginate at both ends, ovary 3-angled but stigma absent. 

Female flowers with the 3-angled ovate ovary. Style short, with 2 or 3 branches, stamens 5, sterile..

Cultivation

It is usually grown grafted on Portulacaria Afra. 

This species is of easy cultivation but very slow-growing and seems to want to grow all the year-round in the greenhouse. 

Seedlings and rooted cuttings are more sensitive and cannot tolerate stagnant water around their roots (especially in winter) as this species comes from very dry areas. 

Keep warm in winter.

Propagation

Seeds, cuttings or (usually) grafting. 

It is said many times that Ceraria Namaquensis is impossible to root and so it is usually grafted on to stems of Portulacaria afra. 

Furthermore is very easy to graft it onto the Portulacaria and the two plants grow very well when grafted. 

The easiest grafting method involves cutting the basal end of the scion in the form of a wedge using a scalpel. 

A corresponding cut is made in the apical end of the rootstock to take the wedge. 

The wedge of the scion is inserted into the cut, the area is bound to hold it together, and the union is sealed with grafting wax. 

Stocks and scions should be matched so that they are of a similar thickness and care must be taken to ensure that the cambium layers line up correctly. 

The graft union must be a snug fit with no gaps, and care must be taken not to touch the grafting plane with one’s fingers. 

It is beneficial to leave a few lateral shoots on the stock plant to nurture the cutting whilst roots develop. 

But despite that, cuttings taken in summer have proved to be able to root in commercial peat blocks (often used for rooting more difficult items such as rarer euphorbias, Madagascan thorn bushes, and stems of Pachypodium succulent). 

A good percentage of cuttings survive well in the moist peat blocks and after about three months begin to root and grow. 

Portulacaria Afra and Ceraria namaquensis (the wolftoon) are the only members of the family which grow to tree size.