Euphorbia balsamifera Aiton
Euphorbia balsamifera subsp. balsamifera, Tithymalus balsamifer
The native range of this species is from the Canary Islands across North Africa to Somalia and Saudi Arabia, and Oman in Asia. It grows on rocky grounds and sandy dunes in plains, among other succulent plants.
Euphorbia balsamifera is a dichotomously branching succulent shrub with pale grey branches and green to glaucous leaves in whorls at the branch tips. It grows up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. Branches are semi-succulent, smooth with transverse leaf scars, and up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter. Leaves are linear–lanceolate to obovate, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long and up to 0.3 inches (0.8 cm) wide.
Flowers appear from winter to summer. The inflorescences are terminal cymes, usually reduced to solitary cyathia with a very small stalk. Bracts are similar to the leaves. Cyathium is yellow, up to 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) in diameter. Fruits are smooth or hairy, shallowly 3-lobed capsules with grey seeds. They are initially green, becoming reddish-green at maturity.
The specific epithet "balsamifera (bal-sam-EE-fer-uh)" means "balsam-bearing," referring to the aromatics of the tree.
How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia balsamifera
Light: This succulent is a sun lover. Place your indoor E. balsamifera in a sunny window. You may place the pot on the balcony or in the garden from spring to fall. Increase sun exposure gradually to prevent sunburn.
Soil: E. balsamifera requires well-drained soil. Use a commercial potting mix formulated for succulents, or make your own.
Temperature: High summer temperatures are not a problem, but low winter temperatures can damage or kill your plant. E. balsamifera can withstand temperatures as low as 30 °F (-1.1 °C). USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10a to 11b, 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C).
Watering: From spring to fall, water when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry. Reduce watering in winter. Give it just enough water to prevent wilting. The best time of the day to water your E. balsamifera in the warm season is the evening.
Fertilizing: Plants in a pot need regular feeding. Apply a balanced fertilizer in a 10-10-10 NPK formulation, diluted to 1/4 strength once a week during the growing season.
Repotting: E. balsamifera will benefit from repotting, but it does not need to be repotted every year. When your plant is outgrowing its pot, it is time to repot it in a larger pot and give it a fresh potting mix. The repotting is best done in early spring, at the beginning of the growing season. Wear gloves, protective clothing, and appropriate eye protection when repotting this succulent.
Propagation: The easiest and fastest propagation method for this plant is by stem cuttings. It can also be grown from seeds, but it can be difficult for seeds to germinate. The best time to take cuttings is in spring or summer. Sow the seeds in spring.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.
Toxicity of Euphorbia balsamifera
E. balsamifera produces a toxic white milky sap that may cause burns or irritation if in contact with the skin or eyes. Therefore, it is best to keep this plant away from children and pets.
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