The Wonderful World of Succulents part 3

One of my pandemic pastimes has been learning about succulents. I started with cacti and now I have moved on to succulents (to be clear, all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti). All succulents are defined as water-storing plants, for the word “succulent” comes from Latin word “sucus,” meaning juice or sap.

I’ve started my succulent journey at the beginning of the alphabet, so without further ado, here are some of my favorite succulents in the “E” family, specifically Euphorbia. Most photos and info come courtesy of the World of Succulents website. (“A” list here, “B/C” list here, Cacti list here)

Here’s some info about the Euphorbia family:

  • Euphorbia is a huge genus composed of plants with milky sap. Those that are succulents range from marble-size spheres to 30-foot trees. Some species resemble cacti and are comparably efficient at storing water.
  • Euphorbias thrive in mild, dry climates.
  • What appear to be flowers on euphorbias are actually bracts that surround tiny flowers (this is true of all euphorbias, including poinsettias).
  • Milky sap that oozes from the cut stems or trunks of euphorbias can cause a skin rash and eye irritation so severe it sends the victim to the hospital. Wear gloves and eye protection when pruning euphorbias, and don’t plant where children or dogs play.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia schoenlandii, “Compass Barrelwort.” Native to So. Africa. It is grows in open fields often on beach sand far enough from the present shoreline to support plant growth. Sometimes resembles a green pineapple. more info, more info

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia guiengola, “String of Stars.” Native to Mexico. In the winter time, the plant drops all of its leaves, but continues to bloom and that is why it is named String of Stars. more info, more info

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia neorubella, “Red Monadenium Bonsai Tree.” Native to Kenya. A caudiciform plant with dainty branched stems looking like a colony of twisting, light-green snakes and succulent lanceolate leaves dappled in purple. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia obesa, “Baseball Plant.” Native to So. Africa. It is found growing in full sun or (more frequently) under the protection of low shrubs and sometime among low boulders in fairly sandy soils. Its colors blend so well with the surroundings that it is often quite difficult to distinguish it. The habitat is very stony and hilly with summer rainfall falling mainly in thunder showers. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia tirucalli, “Pencil Tree.” Native to Africa. Shrub or small tree with masses of cylindrical, pencil-like, succulent branches that form a dense crown. All parts of the plant ooze a caustic milky white sap at the slightest injury. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia pseudoglobosa, “False Globose Spurge.” Native to So. Africa. Dwarf plant that forms a thick mat. In its natural surroundings, it greatly resembles the surrounding small stones. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia pulcherrima, “Poinsettia.” Native to Mexico/Central Am. Shrub or small tree, grows in moist, wet, wooded ravines and on rocky hillsides. Large, flaming red leaves look like flowers. more info, more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia tulearensis. Native to Madagascar. Grows on rocky limestone cliffs. An adorable little succulent plant that develops a wooden tuberous caudex with a crown of short to elongate fat branches. It is one of the rarest of the Madagascan euphorbias and not common in cultivation. It eventually becomes a small shrubby bonsai-like bush. The Euphorbia tulearensis growth form illustrates the typical horizontal habit of most Madagascan euphorbias. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia obesa subsp. symmetrica “Stone Spurge” Native to So. Africa.  This plant can look nearly identical to Euphorbia obesa, but rounder, flatter and not growing as tall. It has usually more, somewhat different, markings. The flowers are also more numerous with several from each point of origin, it has as well a distinctive long taproot. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia lomelii, “Slipper Plant.” Native to Sonora, Mexico. Green, jointed, mostly unbranched, upright and straight, or undulating, coated with wax, photosynthesizing. No thorns. The stems may become reddish when exposed to temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s over several weeks. New stems rise from the edges of the root crown. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia platyclada, “Dead Plant.” Native to Madagascar. A fleshy succulent plant with weird flattened mottled red-brown stems radiating from a raiseable heavy rootstock… nothing green about it. The branches are very interesting, with an irregular scab like texture, and look dead, or at the very least zombified. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia inermis, “Medusa’s Head.” Native to So. Africa. A properly grown plant is a joy, especially when it is in flower, for then each short, erect finger is covered with fragrant, pure white (or yellow) flowers that look like snow crystals and the cluster is exquisite. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia globosa, “Globose Spurge.” Native to So. Africa. a dwarf spineless succulent composed of weird globular, segmented fingers off a caudiciform base, up to 8 cm tall. It forms thick mats of dwarf subshrubs up to 30 cm in diameter. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia flanaganii f. cristata, “Green Coral.” Garden origin (Nursery produced cultivar). . The central stem merges into roots forming an tuberous body (often called a caudex) with branches radiating from it. If you look down into a large specimen you’ll see what looks like a sun flower; it’s another example of a Fibonacci spiral. more info, more info.

family: Euphorbia

specimen: Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’, “Fire Sticks.” Native to Madagascar. Resembles sea coral. Can grow into a large shrub. Stems are yellow in summer, red in winter. A great vertical accent plant. more info, more info.

Bonus succulent:

family: Eulychnia

specimen: Eulychnia castanea cv. varispiralis spiral form. Garden origin. It is a variable cultivar of which we can distinguish at least four basic growing forms: Columnar monstrous form, Columnar discoidal form, Columnar spiral form, Crested form. Each plant is unique and different. more info, more info.

My book Memory Road Trip is available as e-book or paperback! Buy it either at Amazon or at most major retailers.

Published by Krista Marson

Hi, my name is Krista, and I'm a traveling fiend. Well, I should correct myself and say that I used to be a traveling fiend. The COVID-19 health pandemic has kinda stopped me in my tracks and has been keeping me closer to home for the last year and a bit. Perhaps the only thing good about being stuck at home is that it has allowed me the time necessary to finish writing a book. Well, actually, it has allowed me enough time to write about three separate books, but only one of them is ready to be read. I created a website and blog to promote the sale of my forthcoming novels.

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