Euphorbia Meloformis Variegata
Euphorbia meloformis f. falsa
Euphorbia meloformis f. magna
Euphorbia meloformis subsp. valida
E. Meloformis is native to Cape Province. It grows mainly in Great Karroo, the Northern Cape region and in the Graaff-Reinet district in the Eastern Cape. The variegated form is a plant that has the stem with patches or stripes with two or more different colours, even distinct shades of green.
E. Meloformis is a solitary succulent of the Euphorbiacee botanical family. This plant has a short and rounded stem reaching up to 12 cm in diameter, arranged in 8-12 ribs. The stem is light green and ribs have dark green stripes alternating with light green stripes. Ribs have reddish tubercles bearing very small white rounded spines. Flowers are dark pink and bloom at the apex of the stem; the long peduncles of the flowers at the end of the blooming, are dry and persistent. The plant is dioecious, which means that there are some male individuals and some female individuals; therefore, cross pollination is required which is normally carried out by insect. The variegated form is a rare form of the more common E. Meloformis and is highly valued because this particular form is a sporadic variation that occurs among a few individuals in the population. The variegation is due to the loss of the ability to produce chlorophyll in some tissues of the plant, so that this tissue is no longer green. Chlorophyll-free tissues are usually white or pale yellow coloured (due to carotenoid pigments) in contrast to the normal green tissue.
E. Meloformis is a slow growing succulent but quite easy to cultivate. For this succulent the best sun-exposure is light shade, so you can place it indoor. 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 normally: during the vegetative period you can water regularly 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. Handle the plant carefully and wear gloves because the latex it exudes is toxic. The plant can tolerate temperatures as low as -1°C but it is better for the plant to remain at temperatures above 10 C°.
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.
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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