Euphorbia caput-medusae L.
Medusa's Head, Medusa Head
Euphorbia commelinii, Euphorbia fructuspini, Euphorbia geminata, Euphorbia medusae, Euphorbia parvimamma, Euphorbia tessellata, Medusea fructus-pini, Medusea major, Medusea tessellata
Euphorbia caput-medusae is a unique succulent plant with numerous snake-like, gray-green, bumpy-textured branches that emerge on the top of a central tap-rooted caudex. It grows up to a foot (30 cm) tall. The caudex is up to 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. Branches are up to 3 feet (90 cm) long with a knobbed terminal end where small deciduous leaves are produced. White flowers bloom on short stalks rising from the ends of young branches in the spring and summer.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °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. In fact, 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.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.
Euphorbia caput-medusae is native to South Africa (occurs in and around Cape Town).
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