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Araliev family. Homeland - South Africa, Madagascar. In nature, there are about 20 species - evergreen trees and shrubs. The genus Cussonia is named after professor of botany Pierre Cusson at the University of Montpellier.
- Cussonia spicata Cussonia spicata - or "cabbage tree", grows up to 7 m in height in its homeland, trunk diameter is about 60 cm. It bushs well, leaves are grayish-green, double pinnately dissected (of 8-12 segments) with a serrated edge, opposite, on long petioles. In mature trees, the trunk is gradually bare from below, the bulk of the leaves remains at the tops of the shoots, the leaves sit very tightly. Petioles gradually elongate, exceeding the length of the leaf by 3-4 times. The flowers are yellow-green, collected in racemose inflorescences. Cussonia spicata is used as a medicinal plant, a decoction from its roots is used in the treatment of fever, as a diuretic and laxative, and a decoction of the bark is used in the treatment of malaria.
- Cussonia ball-headed Cussonia sphaerocephala is a tree reaching 2 m in height, trunk diameter of about 25 cm.The leaves are dark green, with a serrate edge, on long petioles, twice pinnately dissected, the central - a larger segment of the leaf about 8 cm long and 5 cm wide … The flowers are creamy green, collected in apical inflorescences, about 15 cm long with dense ears, each of which is 5-7 cm long and 2 cm in diameter.
- Cussonia natalensis Cussonia natalensis is a tree or bushy plant with a pronounced caudex. This species has remarkable finger foliage, the affinity with the Fatskhedera is immediately discernible in the structure of the leaf - its five-membered lobes are cut not to the base, like in spicata cussonia, but by about 2/3 of the length.
Care for cussonia
With good care, cussonia grows very quickly, vigorously, and requires a lot of space on the windowsill.
Temperature: normal in summer, as the weather dictates. In winter, he prefers cool rooms, not higher than 18 ° C, not lower than 10 ° C. In nature, cussonias can withstand a more significant drop in temperatures, but at home, 13-14 ° C is enough, the best wintering option is on an insulated loggia or balcony. The leaf surface of all cussonias is dense waxy, protecting from heat during the day and cold at night (the climate of Madagascar is a sharp fluctuation in daily temperatures).
Lighting: full solar lighting throughout the year. If in spring and summer cussonia can grow on the eastern or western windowsill, then in winter it needs either a very bright southern window or good supplementary lighting. It is not only the duration of additional lighting (12 hours) that is important, but also the intensity. When there is not enough light, the petioles of the leaves are strongly stretched, the bush turns out to be loose, but ugly, loose.
In nature, Kussonia grows on the outskirts of the forest and in open areas of rocky mountain heights (at an altitude of up to 2500 m above sea level). Therefore, it is resistant to direct sun, drought and temperature drops. However, growing cussonia at home, the plant is gradually accustomed to the bright sun in the spring so as not to get burned, and excessive drying of the earth leads to premature drying out and loss of leaves.
Watering: regular and moderate, strictly without waterlogging! Plants with caudex require complete drying of the soil. Kussonia does not tolerate waterlogging. It is undemanding to water hardness. In nature, it grows on well-drained soil or rock crevices, where water does not linger for a long time after rains.
Fertilizer: from April to August every two weeks, with a liquid fertilizer for cacti or houseplants, diluted twice.
Air humidity: Kussonia loves humid air, when there is a lack of humidity, especially on hot days, it is easily affected by a mite, therefore, regular spraying is required at temperatures above 24 ° C or humidity less than 50%.
Transplant: young plants annually, adults every two years in the spring. Drainage to the bottom in the form of shards or foam. Option of the soil mixture: 1 part turf, 1 part leaf, 1 part humus and 2 parts of fine gravel chips. You can take 2 parts of greenhouse soil, 1 part of well-rotted compost, 2 parts of zeolite granules (from Barsik cat litter), with a particle size of 3-5 mm. The pots for this caudex plant need small, pay attention to the photo of the cussoni - the pot is somewhat cramped, but the next one should be no more than 1 cm wider than the previous one.
An important wintering condition: in a small pot at a temperature of about 10 ° C, the roots can be overcooled if careless watering (too frequent) is allowed. Therefore, you need to wrap the pot in a thick woolen scarf or put a larger one in another pot and cover the walls with dry sawdust or sand.
In general, the culture of cussonia is similar in requirements to adeniums - the same requirements for temperature, pots and soil, watering and lighting.
Kussonia from seed
Cussonia is propagated by seeds in late winter or spring. When buying seeds, you need to take into account that they quickly lose their germination! Seeds are sown with preliminary soaking for about a day, but it is better to soak in a thermos in hot water (36-40 ° C) for 5-6 hours. Sowing in bowls with a loose peat mixture, deepening by 1-1.5 cm. The bowl should be covered with glass and placed in a warm, slightly shaded place. Ventilate regularly by shaking off condensation. Seeds germinate within 3-8 weeks, depending on the species.
When the sprouts appear, the lighting should be very good, but without the midday sun, ideally on the east windowsill. Basically: high humidity with moderate soil moisture. Caudex begins to develop almost immediately, with the first leaves, so waterlogging is fraught with death.
The grown seedlings in the phase of 3-4 true leaves are planted in small pots in a mixture of sand (or gravel crumbs), humus earth and peat, and the next spring they are transplanted into a soil mixture for adult plants (with the addition of sod land). It is important when planting seedlings from a bowl in pots to minimize trauma to the root system. Remove with a tablespoon, being careful to retain all the soil around the roots.