Desert Rose Varieties: Are There Other Types of Adenium Plants?

The Desert Rose (Adenium obesum), also known as the Impala lily, is a drought-tolerant succulent. 

Related: Read our tips on Desert Rose care.

This flowering tropical plant is a family member of the dogbane family, Apocynaceae.

Collection of small Adenium plants in flower growing in potsPin
Collection of Desert Rose plants in flower growing in pots | civic_dm AT

This plant thrives in high-light conditions, soaking up sunlight to produce beautiful blooms with layers of pink and red flower petals.

Other common names for this plant include:

  • Sabi star
  • Mock Azalea

One interesting feature of this plant is the distinct caudex or stem root system that can hold a lot of water.

The Desert Rose in the Landscape, Garden, or Home

The Desert Rose, with its single, trumpet-shaped blooms in shades of red and pink,  is often grown in pots for easy movement indoors and out. 

The plant is best suited for warmer, dry climates. During winter, the Desert Rose needs to be inside, away from the cold.

These plants are quite resistant to pests but may be subject to mealybugs, spider mites, and tobacco whitefly.

When outside, place potted succulent plants on a patio or porch in direct sunlight. Place the Desert Rose near a south-facing window indoors to receive the most light.

If you’re repotting your desert rose, it’s best to do it in late winter or early spring as soon as new growth emerges.

Potted Desert roses need well-drained soil to avoid overwatering and root rot. Outside, leave your container plants in a pot with drainage holes to reduce the risk of overwatering.

Inside your home, include a saucer to capture excess fluid during watering. Never allow these succulent plants to sit in water.

However, remember that these plants are highly toxic to humans and pets. So careful when handling them at home.

Where Does The Adenium Originate?

Adeniums are found growing in sachel regions near the Saharan Desert.

What Is The Origin Of The Name?

Adenium refers to one species, a succulent shrub or tree in Africa and Arabia.

How Many Species Are There Of Adenium?

There are as many as twelve species of plants in the genus Adenium.


Varieties of Desert Rose Plants

There are quite a few slow-growing varieties of Desert Rose. Below are some of the most common types.

Adenium Obesum

Bright pink flowers of Adenium obesumPin

Adenium obesum is the most common and popular variety of Desert Rose. It has pink, red, and white multi-colored flowers. Obesum has a classic succulent tree appearance, thick bark, and rubbery, round green leaves.

Obesum is the most widespread throughout North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Adenium Swazicum

Adenium swazicum produces trumpet-shaped white and pink flowers like Adenium obesum.

Blooming Adenium SwazicumPin

Swazicum is a little larger than the Adenium obesum and more tolerant of weather changes. But, like all Desert Roses, this plant favors sandy, dry climates and is prone to overwatering.

The Adenium swazicum comes from South Africa.

Adenium Arabicum

The Adenium arabicum from Saudi Arabia and Yemem (formerly Aden) is the most common Adenium variety used for bonsai. Its leaves are large and leathery, and the plant itself is quite broad. This makes it an excellent shrub and tree to cultivate.

Potted Adenium arabicumPin

There isn’t much difference between the trunk and branches, and it often appears squat and fat.

Arabicum comes from the Arabian Peninsula.

Adenium Socotranum

The Adenium socotranum resembles the appearance of a baobab tree. Socotranum comes from the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean.

Potted Adenium SocotranumPin

This Adenium is more tree-like than other varieties. It can grow anywhere from 10′ – 16′ feet tall!

It has a characteristic bottle-shaped trunk and thick leaves that can grow up to 4″ inches long. Due to its shape, a mature tree can have a trunk with a diameter of up to 8’ feet.

This variety favors grittier and rockier soil than other Desert Roses.

Adenium Boehmianum

The Adenium boehmianum is also referred to as the Bushman’s poison. This Desert Rose variety grows near Namibia and Angola.

Adenium boehmianum by © Hans Hillewaert - Wikimedia
Image © Hans Hillewaert / CC BY-SA 4.0

The people of San in that region use the root sap to make poisoned arrowheads.

This Desert Rose variety has fewer leaves and flowers during the growing season. The branches are long and spidery, with clusters of leaves spiraling out from the tips with sparse flowers.

Although there are several Adenium varieties, the most common is Adenium obesum.

If you like growing Adenium Desert Rose, check out Pachypodium Madagascar Palm outdoor care.

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