The most unusual succulent I own is a Monkey Chair, (Pyrenacantha malvifolia,) purchased over a year ago from a rare-plant vendor. The P. Malvifolia is a caudiform that has an aboveground caudex that can eventually reach a diameter of three to five feet in habitat. It produces climbing stems with leaves that look like ivy. In its native eastern African rainforest, the plant grows by vining up into trees.
Summer is its growing season and it needs abundant watering right now. Since it is deciduous, it can go long periods without water in its winter dormancy stage, which has yet to happen. Since I have it in the house, it has not lost any leaves, so I’ve continued to water it, assuming it is in its growing season. I could put it outside--it will take full sun, which actually means light shade in Phoenix--but with its watering needs that would be real chore. The lowest temperature it can tolerate is 40˚ so it would have to come back in for part of the year anyway, so I’ll just leave it in the house until I learn more about it. Some succulents require forced dormancy by withholding water, but I’m unable to confirm if this is desirable for this genus.
I’ve left the P. malvifolia in its pumice filled original four-inch container. The vendor explained that this genus needs a very porous, well-drained medium to do well, and I haven’t yet purchased any pumice in order to transplant it into a nice pot, so it will stay in its plastic pot for a while longer.
There is remarkably little information available about the P. Malvifolia, at least in the places I’ve looked. I’ve researched various publications and asked questions at cactus and succulent nurseries, but no one yet has been able to help me. I’ve emailed the vendor, but she has not responded, so I’ll just continue to care for it as I have been.
Although my specimen has produced several leaves in the 18 months I’ve had it, the caudex has remained the same size. I guess I have no worries about a big, boulder-sized caudex bursting out of its pot, at least not in my lifetime.