Hoodia officinalis has a long history of use as a medicinal and food plant. It is said to be the sweetest-tasting of all Hoodias and is well-known in Namibia and South Africa.

Scientific Name

Hoodia officinalis (N.E.Br.) Plowes

Common Name(s)

Baboon Ghaap, Bitter Ghaap, Bushman’s Hat, Kalahari Cactus, Queen of the Namib, Wild Ghaap


Ceropegia officinalis, Hoodia officinalis subsp. officinalis, Trichocaulon officinale

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Ceropegieae
Genus: Hoodia


Hoodia officinalis is a succulent shrub with gray-green to brown-green stems with tubercles joined in the lower half into 14 to 23 angles, each tipped with sharp brown spine. The stems can grow up to 16 inches (40 cm) long and 2.8 inches (7 cm) thick and be either erect or sprawling.

In early spring, the plant produces bell-shaped flowers that can reach up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter. The corolla is pale green with brownish veins to reddish brown on the outside and red-brown to yellow-brown on the inside, with a covering of small conical papillae, each tipped with a fine bristle. The tube is often much paler yellow. The corona is yellow to dark red-brown and raised on a very short stipe.


Hoodia officinalis is native to southern Namibia and the Northern Cape province of South Africa. It grows inside bushes in flat or gently sloping areas.


The specific epithet «officinalis (oh-fiss-ih-NAH-liss) means «medicinal» and refers to the use of species as a medicinal plant.

Hoodia officinalis
In cultivation, Vredendal, Western Cape, South Africa. Photo by Paul Schultz. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

How to Grow and Care for Hoodia officinalis

Light: Hoodia officinalis prefers full sun but will benefit from light shade during the hottest summer days. Indoors, place the plant near the brightest window of your home because it will stretch if it does not receive enough sunlight. Avoid abruptly moving a plant adapted to lower light levels to full sun to prevent sunburn.

Soil: Use commercial potting soil mix for succulents or prepare your own with 50 to 70 % mineral grit, such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite.

Temperature: The plant thrives in warm outdoor environments with low to moderate humidity. It does not like winter cold and should remain fairly dry and warm during its dormancy. Hoodia officinalis grows best in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10a to 11b, with average minimum winter temperatures ranging from 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C).

Watering: It has typical watering needs for a succulent. During the growing season, from spring to fall, water the plant thoroughly and allow the soil to dry between waterings. When it goes dormant in winter, it needs almost no water, about once a month.

Fertilizing: In order to keep the plant healthy and thriving, fertilization is a good idea. Feed it with water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength, but only when the plant is actively growing.

Repotting: Repot Hoodia officinalis in spring, just before the growing season. It has shallow roots and does not require too much soil to grow. Always pick a container with drainage holes.

Propagation: The best way to propagate this succulent is from stem cuttings. To ensure good rooting, take cuttings during the growing season. The plant is also easy to start from seeds in spring.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapeliads.

Toxicity of Hoodia officinalis

Hoodia officinalis is non-toxic and safe to grow around kids and pets.


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