Monadenium ritchiei


Euphorbia ritchiei


M. ritchiei is native to Kenya where the plant grows in steep stony slopes and can spread up to 1300 m of altitude.


M. ritchiei is a beautiful succulent belonging to the Euphorbiaceae botanical family. The stem is dark green, thick, erect or reclining on the ground and can reach up to 40 cm in height and 3 cm in diameter. The plant tends to branch out and stems are covered with tubercles and clusters of tiny spines. Tubercles are prominent and conical and are arranged in spirals and bear the leaves. Leaves are obovate, tapered on the base, with crisped margin and apiculate apex. Ciathya 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, hot pink ciathya normally being all male on some plants, or all female on others. Because there are male plants and female plants, cross pollination is required that is normally carried out by insects. Flowers are borne at the apex of the stem along the top of the angles of the ribs. Fruits are capsules with narrow fleshy crenulate ridges. The seeds are oblong and grey.


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 15°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.


Propagation can be done by seed or by cutting. 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 a temperature of 14 C°. By cutting you can use the offsets during the spring. Cut an offset 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. To increase the success of propagation you can cut two or more offsets at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C.


Recently, it has been included in the Euphorbia genre, although many collectors prefer to consider it still a genre in itself.

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