About Jurgen: like almost all households in Germany we had a few cacti and succulents on the window sill. In 1991, together with my wife Rosi, we migrated to Australia and settled on a table grape farm in Robinvale in north west Victoria, where our love affair with the spiky and weird plants began in ernest. Soon we had a large collection which grew over the years to many thousand plants. The climate in this part of the world is perfect for growing these drought resistant and low maintenance plants. We retired in 2009, moved to Mildura and planted more than 700 Cacti and Succulent species in our garden around our home.
The genus name Trichodiadiema is derived from the Greek words trix meaning hair and diadema meaning crown referring to the tuft of spreading white bristles borne on the tips of the leaves.
The genus is widespread in the more arid areas of southern Africa. The plants are best grown in the full sun. Almost 20 years ago I got my first Trichodiadema bulbosum and so began a love-affair at first sight . Since then I have grown hundreds of the plants, mostly from cuttings. My fascination with the plant is the tuberous roots which when lifted out of the ground give the plant that special bonsai look. No two look alike.
In October 2008 I had a seedling coming up in one of my T .bulbosum pots . As our climate here in Mildura in north-western Victoria , Australia is the same as in the plants’s habitat, I planted the little seedling in the garden. It already had the typical tuberous roots of T .bulbosum. A month later its first flowers appeared. The flower bud was pinkish and when it opened the flower was a very light pink which turned to pure white within within two days. The first thought which came to mind was that of snow-capped mountains in the Himalayas in the first rays of the morning sun. The second thought was: that can’t be right. The flowers of T. bulbosum are supposed to be purple in colour. I thought I was mistaken and it was not T. bulbosum after all. I decided to wait till autumn (April) and have a look at the roots then. I did not have to wait that long. In January/February 2009 we had one of the worst heat waves on record with temperatures of more than 42 C for 12 days in a row finishing with 47 C on Feb 7. The plant got completely burned off. I dug it out to see if I could save it. The roots were still strong and healthy, and they were tuberous. It was a T .bulbosum, after all. All my T .bulbosums nearby, with the purple flowers, survived the heatwave without any burn offs.
Near the pot where I found the seedling in the first place, there grew a Trichodiadema mirabile. I think this was the culprit which caused the hybridization in the T .bulbosum.
T. mirabile is a white flowering species without the tuberous roots. The flowers, at 3.5 cm, are slightly bigger than that of T.bulbosum 3 cm.
Now four years later the plant has grown into a nice ‘bonsai version’ of Trichodiadema bulbosum ‘Himalayan Sunrise’.
The tuberous roots of the new hybrid grow at a much slower rate. It takes twice as long for the same size tuberous roots to grow as the original plant. Trichodiadema ‘Himalayan Sunrise’ also does not bloom as freely .
Mildura, Victoria, Australia