A nice little patch of Hoodia gordonii at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix.

     Native to Southwestern Africa, the Namib Desert, Hoodia is a genus of a dozen or more basally branching spiny Stapeliads. Hoodia stems range from 1 inch thick and a foot tall to 3 feet tall and 3 inches in diameter. Eventually large clumps develop. Unlike most Stapeliads, Hoodia spines are as menacing as they look. The fleshy tips of the new growth dry out and become hard and sharp. Though somewhat brittle and not quite as lethal as cacti spines, care should be taken in handling them. They produce umbrella shaped flowers with the characteristic foul Stapeliad smell, in purple, brown, yellow or red.
     Hoodia has been used for centuries by the native peoples of the region for appetite and thirst suppression. One thing should be noted; These people live in a very harsh environment. They eat the plant to take away the pain of hunger and thirst. Not because they are trying to lose weight. Eating Hoodia may be an extreme measure for them. So I will neither support nor suggest Hoodia consumption as a means of weight loss until further studies are done.
     Hoodias thrive in a well draining cacti and succulent mix and appreciate water when actively growing. I've noticed that even here in Arizona they grow best in full or at least partial sun once acclimated. They grow fast and offset well and should be allowed some room if planted in the ground.
     My Hoodias came from Shoal Creek as bare root cuttings last fall. Both wintered very well in the greenhouse and are thriving on the seasonal rains that we have here in July and August. Both are probably too small to flower, but rest assured I will post pics when it happens. Click HERE for a link to a website with some cool flower pictures.

I have three species of Hoodia
Click on a thumbnail below.

Hoodia macrantha

Hoodia gordonii

Hoodia flavum

All images and text are copyright 2005 to present, D.S. Franges, unless otherwise noted.