Euphorbia lactea f. crested variegated

Synonyms:

No synonyms are recorded for this species name.

Habitat:

Euphorbia lactea f. crested variegated is a nursery variety, and thus it doesn’t exist in nature. The regular species, Euphorbia lactea, is a columnar succulent plant (might be confused with a cactus by an untrained eye) native to tropical areas worldwide, including Asia and Florida, where it forms dense thickets. This is an example of convergent mechanisms of evolution: Euphorbia lactea looks very similar to any cactus: that’s because they have developed similar evolutionary mechanisms to adapt to similar conditions. However, they are totally unrelated from a phylogenetic point of view.

Description:

Euphorbia lactea f. crested variegated is a small, outstanding succulent, rare and very sought after by collectors for its wavy, crested stem, streaked in blood-red on its very top. Crested forms, in general, are rare genetic mutations that occur spontanously in some species, giving them an odd, peculiar aspect. Crested varieties are the result of a phenomenon called “Fasciation”. Fasciation is an abnormal growth condition of vascular plants where the apical meristem, or any other cellular tissue of vegetative buds, produces new cells just in two directions, and the resulting stem or flower becomes elongated and flattened perpendicularly to the normal direction of cellular growth. In the case of succulents, the bidirectional growth pattern results in fan-shaped stems that tend to become wavy and more or less lumpy depending on the species. In Euphorbia lactea f. crested variegated there isn’t a single stem, but mostly many multiple, piled up crests that are so wavy and irregularly-shaped that they look like odd lichens or seaweeds. Grafted species, instead, have only one stem, and it is more fan-shaped. Due to the abnormalities in the gem function, flowers are never formed, and the plant has to be propagated by cuttings. At the top of the crest there are little bumps and a marked purple red stripe. The rest of the stem is instead teal green, almost bluish. The crested form differs from the variegated crested form in that the variegated one also has the red stripe on the end of the stem, while the crested form is green, with no red hues.

Cultivation:

Put the plant in a bright spot, exposed to indirect or filtered sunlight. Partial shade is also good, especially for variegated forms, that should be protected from sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.
Euphorbia lactea f. crested variegated loves warm temperatures. Put it indoors in Winter: never keep it at above 10ÂșC.
During the growth season, water abundantly and regularly, though always waiting for the soil to dry up completely before each irrigation. In Winter, suspend watering to avoid root rotting.
Use a very well-drained substrate, specific for succulents.
Fertilize carefully, as it’s a tender species. Dilute a specific product for succulents at half the doses recommended on the label once during the growing season.
Repotting is rarely necessary. Once a year every spring will do good, by the way this plant is a slow grower.
Crested varieties might switch back to normal growth for unknown reasons. When it happens, if you still have some of the crested part left, remove the normal part and wait for the remaining crested part to be formed again.

Propagation:

Euphorbia lactea f. crested variegated is found almost exclusively grafted on more tough Euphorbias such as E. resinifera or E. canariensis. The green crested form, instead, can be propagated also by cuttings. Cuttings must be taken off in Spring or Summer. Dip them in a hormone powder and then wait until a callous is formed on the wound. Finally, plant it in fine, sandy substrate.

Curiosity:

Euphorbias 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.

Official Web Site:
www.giromagi.com

Italian Blog:
www.giromagicactus.com

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