Euphorbia aeruginosa


No synonyms are recorded for this name.


Euphorbia aeruginosa is native to South Africa, where it thrives in semi-arid habitats, in rock crevices and outcrops at an altitude range between 300 and 900 meters above the sea level.


Euphorbia aeruginosa is a dwarf succulent plant that reaches a height of around 30 centimeters. It looks like a spiny cactus with a bunch of crowded, abundant slender stems, similar to snakes. It is a caudiciform plant: it is indeed equipped with a caudex, which is an enlarged stem, used by some species to stock water and nutrients against the dry periods of its native climate. There are some difference in habit between the plants grown in full sun, that usually tend to appear in the form of clumps of erect branches, and ones grown in shade, which instead are more prostrate and darker in colour. In any case, the single stems are bluish-grey to dark green,, cylindric, abundantly branching and rather slender (less than 1 centimeters thick). Spiens are numerous, sharp, blackish-purple, up to 2 centimeters long. They grow from a brown-blackish, shield-like spot that hosts the bud, and grown in pairs. The inflorescences, as in all Euphorbias, are cymes, growing at the axiles of spines. In this species, cyme are solitary and bear single small, bright yellow cyathia. A cyathium (cyathia in the plural form) is one of the specialised false flowers forming the inflorescence of plants in the genus Euphorbia. In E. aeruginosa they grow on solitary cymes solitary at the axiles of spines, in the apical part of the stems. Cyathia are enveloped by special structures that look like the petals of regular flowers, called cyathophylls, that, in this species, are bright yellow and rather small (the whole flower reaches 3 millimeter in diameter). The blooming season occurs from late Winter to early Spring.


Growing Euphorbia aeruginosa is a piece of cake. Here’s some tips to keep it happy:

Put it in a sunny spot like a windowsill. It needs lots of light to keep its compact shape. If you put it in full sun, it’ll grow faster but might get a little wild and need some support.
Keep the temperature above 5-8ºC. It can technically handle temperatures down to -1ºC, but it’s safer to keep it inside during the winter. Make sure the soil stays completely dry during the winter to avoid rotting.
This plant is used to a climate with scattered rainfall throughout the year, but it’s not too much, so you can water it all year round except for the coldest months of winter when the plant goes dormant if the temperature is around 4ºC.
Use a well-drained soil, a mix for succulents works well. It should have a high mineral content, like pumice, clay or lapilli.
Fertilize it once a year with a high-phosphorus, high-potassium, and low-nitrogen product. Dilute it to half the recommended dose on the label. Don’t fertilize it after September, the stem might get weak and hold too much water which could be fatal during the winter.
Repot it when it outgrows its current pot. Euphorbia aeruginosa likes to be repotted, especially if it’s in full sun. Repot it in early spring and choose a pot that’s only slightly bigger than the plant, like 1 or 2 centimeters wider. Wear gloves when handling it because of the irritating latex in the stem.


Euphorbia aeruginosa is most commonly propagated through cuttings. Take a cutting during the Spring or Summer, remove the latex by washing it with warm water, and place it in a well-draining, gritty compost to encourage root growth. Before transplanting the cutting into fresh soil, it is recommended to allow the wound to dry for about a week. Seed propagation is also possible, but germination success is often lower than with cuttings. Germination typically occurs within 1-3 weeks.


The species name “aeruginosa” is derived from the Latin word “aeruginosus,” which means “rusty” or “bluish-green,” in reference to the color of its foliage.
It is known for its compact-clump form and unique shape. The sap of the plant contains a chemical called euphorbol, which can be irritating to the skin and eyes. so it is best to handle it with care. It is also known to be a slow growing species, so it is perfect for small gardens.

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