Euphorbia inermis

Synonyms:

Euphorbia viperina
Green Crown
Medusa’s Head

Habitat:

E. inermis is native to South Africa: Cape Province and Eastern Cape.

Description:

E. inermis is a caudex-forming plant of the Euphorbiacee botanical plant. The succulent has a bushy habit and forms many lateral branches from the principal stem. Branches are long and tapered at the end, snake-shaped, which is why they resemble the Medusa’s head. The stem is bright green and deciduous leaves fall early leaving white spots in their place. The plant can reach a size of 50 cm but when the plant grows in pot usually the caudex is uncovered from the ground and vegetation is less vigorous. The blooming occurs in spring-summer and each branch bears a small white cream Ciathya. Ciathya are the typical inflorescence of the Euphorbia, it is an inflorescence consisting of a cuplike cluster of modified leaves enclosing unisexual flowers. E. Inermis, like other Euphorbias, has a particular way of spreading its seeds: the fruit is a slight 3-angled capsule that when ripe explodes and shoots away the seeds it contains. Seeds are small, rounded and light so as to favor the propagation up to a few meters away and have a more uniform spread over the territory.

Cultivation:

This is a slow growing succulent but quite easy to cultivate. For this succulent the best sun-exposure is direct sunlight, but the plant does not tolerate temperatures below 10 °C so it needed to be placed indoors. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly from March to November: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow to the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a very fast and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specifics fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Handle the plant carefully and wear gloves because the latex it exudes is toxic.

Propagation:

Propagation can be done by seed or cutting. By seed is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with high level of humidity. By cutting you can use the offsets that grow at the base of the plant. Cut the offset as close as possible to the base of the stem and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. With Euphorbias is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. To encourage the production of the offsets you can make a cut at the base of the branches.

Curiosity:

Species of the Euphorbiacee family normally if are damaged, exude a white milky sap, called latex. Many plants produce latex, but in the Euphorbiacee this latex is often poisonous and may irritate skin. The poisonousness is due to some alkaloids so it is best to keep the plants away from children or pets.

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