Euphorbia trichadenia is native to Angola, Botswana, KwaZulu-Natal, Namibia, Northern Provinces, Swaziland and Zimbabwe where the plant grows along river banks and on dry hills and can spread up to 1760 m of altitude.
Euphorbia trichadenia is an uncommon perennial succulent belonging to the Euphorbiaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect habit, branches from the base and can reach up to 12 cm in height. The annual stem is cylindrical, fleshy, thin and can be glabrous or puberulous. The plant has a woody thick caudex turnip-shape that can reach 12 cm in depth and 20 cm in diameter. The plants that form the caudex use their subterranean tuber to store water and cope with long periods of drought. The bark is greyish brown and is covered with many sharp grey spines. The leaves are sessile, opposite, obovate to lanceolate, fleshy to coriaceous, pointed at the apex, dark green to greyish green in color and fall during the summer in dry conditions. Blooming occurs from the late spring to the early summer and the blossoms are borne at the apex of the caudex. 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, yellowish green 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 fruits are capsules containing smooth brown seeds.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. For this succulent the best exposure is direct sunlight, so you can place it outdoors but be careful in the hottest days. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The plant does not like temperatures below 8°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The best draining soil for this genus is made up of 40% fertile loam, 40% pumice and 20% coarse sand. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. Irrigation is proportional to the size of the pot, the position and the season. In Spring and Autumn the plant can be watered with a glass of water every 7-10 days; in summer it can be watered every 3-5 days. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. 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. 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; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
The easiest and fast method of propagation is to use cuttings. For leaf cutting you can cut some healthy leaves and plant it in a pot with sand and loam. Place the pot in a warm and bright environment and in 1-2 months the cuttings will be ready to plant. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. Propagation by seed it is not recommended for this species because it is very slow. To fast the propagation, you can try to immerse the seeds in water for 1 day. Sow the seeds in a sandy loam and keep them in warm, humid conditions.
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 stems of the plant are used in Sudan to treat scorpion stings. The specific epithet is a Greek word and refers to the hairy glands.
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