Adenium obesum, more commonly known as Desert Rose, Impala Lily, or Mdagu, is indigenous to arid regions of equatorial Africa, including Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. The plant may also be found in Madagascar. It grows best in areas that receive frequent rain during the summer, but are very dry in the winter.
Desert rose is a member of the oleander family. It is a succulent plant with branches that are thick and fleshy. The name "obesum" refers to the base of the plant, which actually looks fat. The plant is also called False Baobab, as it resembles a miniature version of giant Baobab trees in trunk and branch structure.
Adenium obesum display flowers twice a year, once in the spring, and again in the fall. Flowers of the plant, display five petals each that range from white, to pink to rose red.
Adenium obesum produces long, slender, bean-like seed pods which are similar to the pod of the Madagascar Palm, only thinner. They are approximately 11 to 22 cm long, tapered at both ends, slightly curved, and grey to pale brown in color. Each pod has two seams along the length of the pod, on opposite sides. When the seed pod ripens fully, it will split open along the seams to reveal many seeds.
The seeds are oblong and slender and approximately 10 to 14 mm long. They are pale brown in color, slightly rough. The seeds have long tufts of white hairs projecting from each end of the seed. These tufts allow the seeds to be borne by the wind, to better propagate the plant. The seeds are inedible and are, in fact, poisonous.
Adenium obesum can be propagated by seeds. The best time to plant desert rose seeds is in the spring. Seeds of Adenium obesum should be allowed to ripen fully before planting. To collect seeds, place a plastic or light cloth bag around the seed pod and tie it in place prior to the pod opening. When the pod opens the seeds will be captured in the bag for later retrieval. Note that the viability of seeds obtained from cultivated plants may be poor due to pollination problems.
To plant Adenium obesum seeds, first remove the tufts of hairs on each end. Plant the seeds freely in potting soil, keeping the soil moist at all times. At a soil temperature of 30 degrees C, the seeds will usually germinate within one week of planting . They sprout easily, requiring little attention. For the fastest germination, place the freshly planted seeds outside in hot weather in continuous, full sun. Plants grown from seed quickly mature and may actually flower within a year.