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SotW (2011-02-14) Euphorbia monteiri ssp. brandbergensis

Posted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:23 am
by lancer99
Euphorbia monteiri ssp. brandbergensis



Even for a euphorbia, this widespread species is pretty unusual!

Growth Habit: Although somewhat variable, it almost always consists of a single stem, up to a meter in height, crowned with narrow leaves and the dried remains of its peduncles (flower stems).

Scientific name: Euphorbia monteiri ssp. brandbergensis (Nordenstam). The species, E. monteiri, was described by Hooker in 1865.

Common names: None.

Etymology: The generic names honors Euphorbos, physician to King Juba. Occasionally you will see this species named "E. monteiroi." White, Dyer and Sloane, in The Succulent Euphorbieae, claim that the correct spelling is "E. monteiroi," after its discoverer J. J. Monteiro, but the IHSP says the name comes from the Latinized version "Monteirus" of "Monteiro." In any case, it was first described as "E. monteiri", so that name takes precedent. "Brandbergensis" comes from the place name, Brandberg, Namibia.

Taxonomy: There are three subspecies, all quite distinct: E. m. ssp. monteiri, E. m. ssp. ramosa, and E. m. ssp. brandbergensis (see Notes).

Distribution: Quite a wide range, from Central Africa (Angola and Botswana) to Namibia and South Africa.

Habitat: Variable.

Cultivation: This is an easy one. I give it a dormant period during winter, but other than that, it seems to love water, no doubt due to its abundantly leafy/bushy crown. Mine is in a plastic pot, but still gets watered at least once a week during the summer.

Minimum temperature: I keep mine at a minimum of 50 degrees, but given its wide range, it's probably hardy to lower temperatures.

Conservation Status: CITES Appendix II - Trade controlled to avoid use incompatable with species survival - Global.

Notes: As mentioned above, there are three subspecies. This is Euphorbia monteiri ssp. monteiri:

E. m. ssp. monteiri in habitat:

E. m. ssp. ramosa seems mostly to be different in that it's shorter, and unlike the other subspecies, branches sparsely, as its name implies:

E. m. ssp. brandbergensis is pretty distinct from the other subspecies, because of its skinnier leaves, and very distinctive cyathia, with five (rather than four, as in the other two subspecies) green/yellow (rather than red/purple) nectar glands. What look almost like stamens are actually elongated outgrowths from the nectar glands.

Cyathium of E. m. ssp. ramosa:

Cyathium of E. m. ssp. brandbergensis. Note the copious nectar: