Adenium obesum is a species of flowering plant in the dogbane
family, Apocynaceae, that is native to the Sahel regions, south of
the Sahara (from Mauritania and Senegal to Sudan), and tropical and
subtropical eastern and southern Africa and Arabia. Common names
include Sabi Star, Kudu, and Desert-rose.
It is an evergreen or drought-deciduous succulent shrub (which
can also lose its leaves during cold spells, or according to the
subspecies or cultivar). It can grow to 1–3 m (3.3–9.8 ft) height,
with pachycaul stems and a stout, swollen basal caudex. The leaves
are spirally arranged, clustered toward the tips of the shoots,
simple entire, leathery in texture, 5–15 cm (2.0–5.9 in) long and
1–8 cm (0.39–3.1 in) broad. The flowers are tubular, 2–5 cm
(0.79–2.0 in) long, with the outer portion 4–6 cm (1.6–2.4 in)
diameter with five petals, resembling those of other related genera
such as Plumeria and Nerium. The flowers tend to red and pink, often
with a whitish blush outward of the throat.
Cultivation and uses
A. obesum is a popular houseplant and bonsai in temperate
regions. It requires a sunny location and a minimum indoor
temperature in winter of 10 °C (50 °F). It thrives on a xeric
watering regime as required by cacti. A. obesum are typically
propagated by seed or stem cuttings. The numerous hybrids are
propagated mainly by grafting onto seedling rootstock. While plants
grown from seed are more likely to have the swollen caudex at a
young age, with time many cutting-grown plants cannot be
distinguished from seedlings.
The toxic sap of its roots and stems is used as arrow poison for
hunting large game throughout much of Africa.
Adenium obesum subsp. obesum (Mauritania and Senegal to Sudan)
Adenium obesum subsp. oleifolium (South Africa, Botswana)
Adenium obesum subsp. socotranum (Socotra)
Adenium obesum subsp. somalense (Eastern Africa)