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Euphorbia bisellenbeckii (Octopus Arms)


Scientific Name

Euphorbia bisellenbeckii Bruyns

Common Names

Octopus Arms


Monadenium ellenbeckii, Monadenium zavattarii

Scientific Classification

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia


Euphorbia bisellenbeckii, formerly known as Monadenium ellenbeckii, is a low-growing, shrubby succulent with fleshy, serpent-like stems that emerge from a central base. The stems are thin, light green, fleshy, columnar, or creeping, up to 5 feet (1.5 m) long and up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in diameter. The leaves are green, weakly attached at the branch tips, and up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long. The flowers are yellow-green, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in diameter, and appear in summer.

Euphorbia bisellenbeckii (Octopus Arms)

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USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Euphorbias are very easy to care for. These plants require a little pampering to become established, but once they are, they are self-sufficient. More die from too much care and watering than from neglect. Euphorbias need well-draining soil and lots of sunlight. They are not particular about soil pH, but they cannot tolerate wet soil. Unlike most succulents, Euphorbia does not handle long periods of drought well. It may need weekly watering during the summer. Water whenever the soil is dry several inches below the surface. Water deeply, but don't let them sit in wet soil, which can cause root rot. Add some organic matter or fertilizer to the planting hole. If you are growing them in containers or your soil is poor, feed with a half-strength fertilizer monthly.

These succulents can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate (or even find). They are usually propagated by cuttings. This can be tricky because of the exuding sap. Rooting hormone is recommended with Euphorbias. They tend to grow problem-free, but there are a few pests and diseases to be alert for. See more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia


Euphorbia bisellenbeckii is native to Ethiopia, Somalia, and northern Kenya.


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