Euphorbia debilispina


No synonyms are recorded for this name.


Euphorbia debilispina is native to Zambia and Tanzania, where it grows in rock crevices of limestone, in open woodland.


Euphorbia debilispina is adwarf, perennial succulent. It form a dense clump of little branches, that don’t exceed the height of 10-20 centimeters. Its stems are slightly tetrangular, greyish to pale green, equipped with greyish-white triangular spots, vertically lined up on the edges of the stems. These white spots contain the buds that give birth to spines and flowers. In this species, by the way, the spines are rather inconspicuous, less than 4 millimeters in lenght, whitish. There are also rudimentary leaves, very small as well (1 millimeter long), soon falling off the plant. The flowers, as in all Euphorbias, are called 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. debilispina there are 2 to 4 cyathia for each cyme. Cymes are particularly crowded at the top of the stems, but are present as weel on the spine shields, where they grow in pairs, solitary, or in groups of 3. The cyathia are enveloped by special structures that look like the petals of regular flowers, called cyathophylls, that, in this species, are bright yellow and very decorative. The blooming season occurs in late Winter to early Spring.


Euphorbia debilispina is not difficult to grow. Here below are our tips:

Put it in a bright spot such as a sunny window. It needs plenty of light to maintain its compact-clump form. Plants placed in full sun grow faster, but might become untidy and require a support.
Keep it a temperatures above 5-8ºC. In theory, it could stand temperatures down to -1ºC, but we suggest to stay safe and place it indoors in Winter. Make sure its substrate stays completely dry during the Winter to avoid rotting.
Water regularly in Spring and Summer (around once a week). Wait always for the soil to dry up completely before each irrigation, as no water should be allowed to stay around the roots. Keep completely dry in Winter, when the plant responds to cold temperatures through dormancy.
Choose a very well-drained soil: a mix for succulents should do good. It has to have an abundant mineral part, made of pumice, clay or lapilli.
Fertilize once a year with a product rich in Phosphorus and Potassium and poor in Nitrogen. Dilute the product to half the doses recommended on the label. Never fertilize from September onwards: the stems might become fragile and too rich in water: a lush growth that might be fatal during the Winter.
Repot whenever the plant outgrows its pot. It has a relatively fast seasonal growth, though it usually stays small, so it’s not necessary to repot every year. It will anyway benefit from repotting. Repot in early Spring and choose pots that are only slightly larger than the diameter of the plant, like 1 or 2 centimeters wider. Wear gloves to protect from the irritating latex contained in its stem.


Propagation of Euphorbia debilispina can be achieved through both seeds and cuttings. For seed propagation, the seeds should be sown in well-draining soil mix, and kept in a warm and bright place. Germination typically occurs within 2-3 weeks. However, seed propagation is less common and less successful than propagation through cuttings. For cutting propagation, it is recommended to take stem or leaf cuttings during the warmer months of spring or summer, and allow them to dry for a few days before planting them in well-draining soil mix. Rooting hormone can be applied to the cuttings to encourage root growth. The cuttings should be kept in a warm and bright place, and should be kept slightly moist until roots have formed, which typically takes around a month.


The name of this species, “debilispina”, comes from the Latin words “debilis”, meaning “weak” and “spina”, meaning “spine”, referring to its small, inconspicuous thorns. Euphorbia debilispina is a species of succulent plant that’s native to the Canary Islands, specifically to the island of Tenerife. It’s also known by some common names such as “Tenerife spurge” or “Tenerife cactus”. It’s a protected species on the island of Tenerife, due to habitat loss, and it’s only found in wild in a few locations on the island: that makes it a unique plant and a great option for collectors of succulent plants.

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