Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei)

When we first moved to Phoenix more than six years ago, all of our northeastern gardening experience was rendered moot. What we knew did not fit to the Sonoran Desert environment. We needed to be re-educated regarding desert gardening.

I quickly enrolled in the Maricopa County Master Gardener program. Until then, however, I needed to have some plants to care for. After having so many gardens and plants to nurture in New Jersey, it was in my DNA.

One of the first plants we obtained was a Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei) which technically is not a palm tree at all. This is how it looked during its growing season shortly after I first purchased it:

Madagascar Palm First Purchased

One thing about the Madagascar Palm, which I didn’t know, was that during the desert winter, it drops all of its leaves and can easily be mistaken for dead. This is how it looks once the cold weather has set in:

Madagascar Palm Without Leaves

Those stickers keep the pesky critters at bay!

When we first purchased the plant it was between seven and eight inches high. It was a small plant and it was in a relatively, i.e. 4 to 6-inch, clay pot.

This is how our plant looked this spring (nearly six feet tall):

Madagascar Palm Spring 2015

Until this year our palm had only leaves which dropped during the winter and then reappeared each succeeding growing season. This year, however, there was a surprise in store:

Madagascar Palm Spring 2015 with Flowers

There was a cluster of flower buds. They are very pretty white flowers with a yellow center. I am not sure where they go from here (what kind of seed pod, etc.). The flowers last more than one day which is nice. What kind of fruit they will yield or if they will be pollinated at all is yet to be determined.

The flower pictures are not the best because the ladder I used to take them was not set on a stable surface and it was a bit tricky. I think you will still be able to appreciate the plant even with these less-than-perfect shots.

Madagascar Palm Spring 2015 with Flowers

Read more about the Madagascar Palm here and here.

2 thoughts on “Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei)

  • October 20, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Can i leave my plant which is 12 ft. now outside in winter..very difficult bringing in and out…never grows flowers

    • October 20, 2021 at 10:24 pm

      No, the Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei) cannot tolerate the cold. It was my experience that it didn’t even like temperatures that were 40 degrees or below. We finally had to let our plant go when it grew too big to bring in and out of the garage on very cold winter nights even in the desert of Phoenix.

      If you research temperatures on the Internet for this plant, they are not consistent. Some suggest keeping it above 50 degrees while others say that it can take somewhat lower temperatures. We were successful as long as it didn’t get much below 40, but we would bring it into the garage on those nights. Sorry I don’t have better news.


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