May plant of the Month (2006) Euphorbia aeruginosa

A more in-depth look at individual succulent species, a new one is added each week.
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May plant of the Month (2006) Euphorbia aeruginosa

Post by templegatejohn »

Euphorbia aeruginosa Schweick


Growth Habits: This Euphorbia forms branches as many of the genus do, but this species stays at a more manageable 1ft. High (approx. 30cms.). The branches are usually about ½in. (13 mm.) in diameter. The plant has a very distinctive look with its red thorns that appear in pairs and large thorn pads. The stems are bluish green and four angled. The plant grows from a subterranean caudex

Scientific name: Euphorbia aeruginosa

Common names: Nothing known to the author

Synonym: Nothing known to the author

Etymology: The genus Euphorbia was established by Linnaeus in 1753 and commemorates Euphorbus, the 1st century physician to King Juba II of Mauritania, who is thought to have used plants, such as Euphorbias, as medicine.

Origin: South Africa (Mpumalanga)

Light: The plant looks as though it will take all the sun you can provide for it, but in fact it prefers light shade.

Everyone has their own favourite mix, but because this plant grows from an underground caudex, extra care must be taken to ensure that the compost drains well.

Water: This species makes most of its growth in summer (this may sound an obvious statement, but many plants including species of Euphorbia make some or all of their growth at other times of the year). It can be watered freely in the summer months, but kept relatively dry at other times and perfectly dry if the winter is cold.

The flower as with virtually all Euphorbia is yellow, but slightly larger than many, and also a deeper, what I would call a sulphur yellow. They tend to grow up the stems on the newest growth and are quite prolific. They appear in late Spring. The plant in the photograph would normally be in flower now, but the weather is so far behind in England at the moment, that there are not even any buds showing.

The fruit is a typical Euphorbia shape, containing three large seeds.

Min. temp: 50°f. (10°c) is a good average temperature. The plant is said to be able to stand some frost for a short time, but I have never risked mine and would certainly not advise you to do so.

The plant is reasonably easy to grow if the above advice is followed. Keep in light shade, particularly in a greenhouse. Most plants die or are killed by overwatering during the dormant period of the plant.

Habitat: Mpumalanga, formerly known as the Eastern Transvaal, is one of South Africa's top tourist destinations. People are drawn by the magnificent scenery, by the fauna and flora and by the saga of the 1870s gold rush era and a wealth of fascinating tribal legends. Aptly know as "Paradise Country", few regions in the world can match the extraordinary beauty of the Lowveld and escarpment. Mountains, panoramic passes, valleys, rivers, waterfalls and forests characterise the landscape. This is also Big Game Country, the setting for dozens of sanctuaries teeming with wildlife and birds. Among them, the Kruger National Park.

Comments: If Euphorbia obesa is my favourite Euphorbia, this species comes very close. The young growth is a joy to behold and the plants maximum size is a bonus for all of us who only have the opportunity to grow these wonderful plants in a greenhouse, rather than in the open ground. There can be nothing better than having the plants in open ground, but a greenhouse does have its advantages. If the plant is not happy in a particular area, you can just lift the pot up and move it somewhere else. If it is raining, which it often is in England you can still go into the greenhouse and enjoy your plants.