Euphorbia mammillaris f. variegata


No synonyms are recorded for this name.


E. mammillaris f. variegata is native to South Africa, where it’s widespread in Little Karoo and Southern Cape area. It can be found, together with E. esculenta and E. ferox, in the arid regions of the South Africa inland. Actually, the variegata form is a nursery-grown cultivar: this information is actually about the regular form, E. mammillaris.


E. mammillaris is a perennial, more or less branched depending on the specimen, shrub. The stem is bright green, erect, 6 centimeters wide and and 1 meter high, usually divided into 7 to 17 ribs, formed by lined up, exagonal tubercles. The tubercles are nipple-shaped and end up in a white bud, from which, occasionally, a 1 centimeter long, white peduncle is formed. A peduncle is a kind of an evolved spine. Branches start off at 10 centimeters of height and are usually club-shaped, and short, so that E. mammillaris f. variegata, to a less experienced eye, might be confused with an odd cacti, also because the top of the branches and the main stem is often crowded with above mentioned spine-like formations.
In late Winter, E. mammillaris f. variegata produces red or orange cyathiums, which grow solitary at the top of the stems, borne on 2 millimeters long peduncles. A cyathium is a cup-shaped involucre bearing several minute stamens (male flowers) and a pistillate flower consisting of an ovary on a long stalk (pedicel). The variegated form of E. mammillaris is appreciated for the variable range of colour of its white-greenish stems, adorned with emerald green veins, turning reddish-pink in winter as the temperature falls.


E. mammillaris f. variegata is not difficult to grow. Here below are our cultivation tips:

This plant can be grown in full sun or half-shade. Direct sunlight enhances the colourful tinges of its stems, however E. mammillaris f. variegata also tolerates half shade.
Keep your E. mammillaris f. variegata at temperatures above 10ÂșC. In Winter, we advice to shelter it or put it indoors.
Water regularly and abundantly during the growth season, always waiting for the soil to dry up completely before each watering. In Autumn, decrease gradually the irrigation frequency until stopping completely to water in Winter.
E. mammillaris f. variegata requires a well-draining soil. It will adapt also in a poor, rich in mineral, substrate, however the best results are obtained usually with nutrient-rich substrates.
Fertilize during the growing season with a cacti-specific product, better if rich in Potassium. A fertilization once a month will be sufficient, though the plant will be fine also in poor, not fertilized soils.
E. mammillaris f. variegata is a relatively fast-growing species. However, a repotting frequency of once every two years will be fine. While repotting, trm off the dead branches.


E. mammillaris f. variegata is usually propagated through cuttings or seeds. Cuttings, however, are the most common and easy method. Cuttings can be obtained also by simply removing one of the offsets. In any case, let the wound dry up before replanting the cuttings, and remember to wash out the latex. Lay the cutting on the soil and insert the stem end partially into the substrate. Try to keep the cutting somewhat upright so that the roots are able to grow downwards.


Cultivated plants must be handled carefully. All Euphorbias, in fact, contain a poisonous latex that makes them, for example, dangerous for pets and very young children. Many of them are used in the pharmaceutical field. The latex of E. decepta has also a very unpleasant smell. The species name “Euphorbia” was given after the doctor Euforbo, the Greek doctor of Juba the second, king of Mauritania. The specific name “Mammillaris”, instead, refers to the numerous, nipple-shaped nipples, as “Mammilla” means “nipple”.

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