No synonyms are recorded for this name.
Euphorbia fruticosa is native to an area between South-Western Saudi Arabia and Northern Yemen. Its habitat are the crevices of rocks in steep slopes of open-deciduous shrublands, where it tends to form abundant colonies.
Euphorbia fruticosa is a succulent plant of the family of Euphorbiacae. Like many Euphorbias, it definitely looks like a cacti. It has in fact the typical cacti-shaped stem, ribbed and oblong-elliptical in shape. As we already explained in other botanical notes about Euphorbias, this is the typical example of what’s called a “convergent evolution”: plants from very distant geographic areas develop a similar aspect and similar mechanisms to cope with similar climate conditions: in this case, dry, warm habitats. Euphorbia fruticosa, in fact, looks definitely like a cacti: it has cylindrical, succulent stems, bright green in colour, divided into many ribs and provided with spines like cacti. In Euphorbia fruticosa, ribs are very pronounced and 10 to 13 in number, and their crest is equipped with vertical white tubercles that look like the areola of cacti (areola are cacti’s buds). The growth habit of the stems is coloumnar, and they reach 10 centimeters in diameter and 70 in height. Spines are arranged in regular, vertical rows running on the crests of the ribs. They are rather short, tiny, grey, growing in opposite pairs.
Flowers, in this species, are the typical cyathia of Euphorbias. 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. fruticosa they grow solitary, lined up on the stems between a group of spines and another, usually concentrate towards the top of the stems, on the crests of the ribs. They are very numerous. Cyathia are enveloped by special structures that look like the petals of regular flowers, called cyathophylls, that, in this species, are 5 and regularly rounded, as well as bright yellow. They appear on the plant in a period beween Autumn and early Spring.
Euphorbia fruticosa is a subtropical species known for its hardiness and ease of cultivation. Optimal growing conditions include bright, filtered or indirect light, with temperatures above 5-8ºC. It is important to ensure the substrate remains completely dry during the winter to prevent rotting. During the growth season in spring and summer, watering should be abundant but infrequent, allowing the soil to dry out completely before each irrigation. In contrast, watering should be suspended in the fall and winter as Euphorbia fruticosa is a winter-dormant species. The ideal soil for this species is well-drained, with a mineral-based substrate such as clay, pumice or lava grit. Fertilization should be done once a year with a product high in phosphorus and potassium and low in nitrogen, and it should be diluted to half the recommended dose. Repotting should be done when the plant outgrows its pot, with a pot only slightly larger than the diameter of the plant. This species is moderately fast-growing and branches abundantly, forming compact clumps that will quickly fill the available space in the pot.
Propagating Euphorbia fruticosa can be done both through seeds and cuttings. To propagate through cuttings, take a stem cutting and remove the leaves from the bottom half. Allow the cutting to callus over for a few days before planting it in well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until roots have formed, which typically takes about a month. Propagating through seeds is also an option, but it can be more difficult and success rates may vary. It is best to sow the seeds in Spring or Summer in well-draining soil, and keep the soil consistently moist until germination occurs, which can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks.
Euphorbia fruticosa, also known as Gopher Plant, is a species of succulent shrub native to the Mediterranean region. One fun fact is that it’s a winter-dormant species and it’s able to survive in dry, rocky soils and coastal areas. The name Euphorbia comes from Euphorbus, a Greek physician, who discovered the plant’s medicinal properties. The species name fruticosa means “shrubby” in Latin, which is fitting for this plant’s growth habit. It’s a great plant for those who want a low-maintenance and drought-tolerant addition to their garden. Also, it’s a good option for rock gardens and for planting in between paving stones.
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