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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Hoodia gordonii – Ghaap (plant)

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Hoodia gordonii is a leafless succulent up to 50cm in height with thorny, fleshy stems arising from a common base. Native to southern Africa. It has foul-smelling flesh coloured flowers, the rotten meat stench is to attract their main pollinators, flies. In the family Asclepiadaceae.

Called Ghaap by the Khoi-San of South Africa and Namibia, the peeled stems were eaten as appetite and thirst suppressants. Experimental cultivation trials are under way so that wild harvesting can be discontinued.

Like many members of the Asclepiadaceae family, Hoodia gordonii contains cardiac glycosides or biochemically related compounds. The active principle has been found to be a pregnane glycoside known as P57. P57 has powerful appetite-suppressant properties that have been clinically demonstrated in animal trials.

Care and Cultivation of Hoodia gordonii

Likes a full sun/part shade position and is tolerant of bright, hot exposure and light frost. These succulents can be watered moderately during the warmer months and sparingly to nothing over winter. Avoid overhead watering. Watering while the temperature is low can lead to basal rot. Otherwise, they are extremely easy to look after. A mix between cacti and normal potting mix is best. Likes to be potted up regularly.

1 plant (170-270mm tall)


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