Common name: Wax rose, Cactus rose, Leaf cactus, Leafy cactus, Spinach cactus, Chinese rose
Wax roses are unique shrubs from the Cactus family, with bright green, fleshy leaves and beautiful, bright orange flowers adorning the plant. The plants can grow to a height of 6-8 meters with a trunk diameter of about 10 cm.
The trunk bears thorns when the plant is young, but as the plant grows older, the main trunk loses its spines. The branches bear brown thorns that are about 1-2 cm long. Leaves are oblong, glossy, succulent and green, about 10-15 cm long.
During flowering season, the entire Wax rose plant is covered with strikingly beautiful, bright orange flowers that resemble roses, giving the plant its name Cactus rose.
Another unique characteristic of this plant is its upside-down-funnel shaped fruits that are yellow, waxy, and glossy. The fruits are about 5-6 cm long and contain dark brown or black colored seeds that are 5-8 mm in diameter.
Wax rose plants are native to Central America, but they are now grown as ornamental plants in many tropical countries where they bloom abudantly during spring and summer months. Some related species have pink, red, and scarlet colored flowers.
These plants are grown as ornamental plants due to their beautiful blooms and their non-fussy nature. Wax rose plants are ideal for amateur gardeners since they can thrive well with very little care and attention. They are outdoor plants that grow well in bright sunlight and well-drained soil.
Wax rose plants can be grown in semi-shade, but the flowering is not as abundant in filtered sunlight. Since they belong to the cactus family, the plant is highly drought-tolerant and needs regular watering only during summer months. Overwatering is more dangerous to the plant than underwatering.
Their thick spines make them good hedge plants preventing entry of wild animals into cultivated areas. The bright flowers attract small birds, insects, and bees that help pollinate them.
Parts of the wax rose plant are eaten as vegetable in some parts of the world, and the leaves are used to brew tea. The fruit is eaten as a wild fruit by some communities.
Wax rose plants have many medicinal uses in the treatment of headache, gastric pain, ulcer, asthma, rheumatism, cancer, hemorrhoids, hypertension, diabetes, infections, snakebites and alleviating muscle aches.
They also have antiparasitic, antimicrobial, antioxidant properties that make them very valuable in the treatment of diseases.
Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings, though it might take a long time for seeds to germinate. Stem cuttings root more readily if they are allowed to dry out before planting.
Pereskia bleo: Wax rose