Euphorbia pseudocactus


Common names:
False Cactus Euphorbia
Cactus-like Euphorbia


Originally from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Euphorbia pseudocactus thrives in semi-arid climates, typical of its native habitat. It is found in regions with dry, rocky terrains and limited rainfall, environments where its adaptations give it a competitive advantage. The plant has adapted to survive in harsh conditions with sporadic water availability, making it a resilient species in its natural habitat.


Euphorbia pseudocactus is a striking succulent belonging to the Euphorbiaceae botanical family. This plant is known for its columnar, segmented stems that closely resemble those of a cactus. These stems are green with a hint of blue and are covered in small spines that emerge from ridges along the stem. This plant can grow up to several cm in height, although it is slow-growing. The segments of the stem are capable of photosynthesis and store water, an adaptation crucial for survival in arid conditions. Its flowers are small, yellow, and inconspicuous, typically appearing in the spring. Unlike true cacti, it secretes a milky sap when cut, which is characteristic of the Euphorbia genus.


The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 7° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice soil, clay and soil. 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 of Euphorbia pseudocactus is commonly done through stem cuttings. The cuttings should be taken with care, as the sap can be an irritant. It is recommended to allow the cut surface to callous over for a few days before planting in well-draining soil. The plant also responds well to seeds, although they can be more challenging to germinate and require a warm, humid environment to sprout. Consistent but moderate watering and plenty of sunlight are essential for the successful propagation of this species.


Euphorbia pseudocactus has several intriguing aspects. Its resemblance to cacti is a fascinating example of convergent evolution, where different species develop similar traits independently to adapt to comparable environments. Additionally, the plant’s sap has been used in traditional medicine, though it must be handled with care due to its potential irritant properties.

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