Euphorbia leucodendron f. Crestata
Euphorbia alluaudii subsp. Alluaudii
E. leucodendron is native to the warmer areas of South-west Madagascar in the “Thorn Forest”, extending towards the central high-plateau. The forma crestata has garden origin. The plant grows in subhumid, dry or subarid bush areas and can spread up to 1000 m of altitude.
E. leucodendron is a rare succulent very appreciated by collectors belonging to the Euphorbiaceae botanical family. The plant has a shrubby habit and tends to grow in clumps. The plant is spineless and can reach up to 4 m in height. The stem is erect, cylindrical and heavily branched and is bright green in color. The tiny leaves are spirally arranged around the stem and when they fall they leave a brownish dot giving to the stem a maculated appearance. In the crested form, the stem grows in the shape of a fan or wave and usually branches off from the base, taking on highly sought-after sculptural forms. Blooming occurs during the spring-summer period, the plant produces lateral the apex of the stem some green yellow Ciathya. Ciathya are the typical inflorescence of the Euphorbia, it is an inflorescence consisting of a cuplike cluster of modified leaves enclosing unisexual flowers. The fruits are red and heart-shaped. Pay attention to the bark of the plant: the bark, when cut, releases a useful sap to the plant to protect itself from fungal attacks but toxic for humans!
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. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well: 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. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. You should repot the plant every 2 years 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 seed. 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 seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
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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