Euphorbia lactea f. crested
There are not synonyms for this plant
E. lactea is native to Sri Lanka
E. lactea is a tall succulent belonging to the Euphorbiaceae botanical family. The plant heavily branches from the base and can reach up to 6 m tall. The stem is erect, columnar, quadrangular, arranged in 4 well-marked ribs made of tubercles. The stem is bright green with a central lighter stripe. The tubercles are pointed and bear forked black spines. The leaves are sessile and early deciduous, or absent. Cyathia are the typical inflorescence of the Euphorbia, it is an inflorescence consisting of a cuplike cluster of modified leaves enclosing unisexual flowers. This species has small, light yellow cyathia normally being all male on some plants, or all female on others. Because there are male plant and female plant, cross pollination is required that is normally carried out by insect. The crested form usually grows in the shape of a fan and can branches at the base.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 8°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. 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 a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: 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 the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific 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. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by grafting. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting 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. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By grafting you can use Euphorbia canariensis or Euphorbia resinifera. Make the cut as close to the growing tip as possible, then chose a stock with a diameter similar to that of the scion. After the cut, wash away the latex until it no longer remains. Bring the scion closer to the stock and held together with elastic bands. The plants should be left in an airy and shady place for 7-10 days before the bands are removed.
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. The forma crestata is a natural mutation that occurred in the E. lacteal population and that was selected and propagated vegetatively.
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