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Euphorbia debilispina


Scientific Name

Euphorbia debilispina L.C.Leach

Scientific Classification

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


This species is native to Zambia and Tanzania.


Euphorbia debilispina is a spiny succulent shrub that grows up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall, forming large, densely branched clumps. Stems are simple or branched, 4-angled, and grey-green to blue-green with a reddish tinge in full sun. They have brownish or whitish spine shields along the margins of the angles that bear short paired spines. Leaves are tiny and usually fall off pretty quickly. Flowers appear from late winter to early spring. They are small, funnel-shaped, and yellow to yellow-green. Fruits are 3-lobed capsules.

The specific epithet "debilispina" derives from the Latin words "debilis," meaning "weak" and "spina," meaning "thorn, spine or prickle," and refers to the short, sometimes rudimentary spines.

Euphorbia debilispina

Photo by H. Zell

How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia debilispina

Light: Most Euphorbias are sun lovers, but some will tolerate partial shade. Place your indoor Euphorbia debilispina on windows with southern or southeastern exposure. From spring to fall, you may place the pot on the balcony or in the garden.

Soil: Euphorbias require well-drained soil. They even thrive in poor, dry soils. Use a commercial mixture formulated for cacti and succulents or make your own potting mix.

Hardiness: High summer temperatures are not a problem for succulent Euphorbias, but minimum winter temperatures vary. Euphorbia debilispina can withstand temperatures as low as 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.

Watering: Succulent Euphorbias can survive drought, but do not mean that they need it. From spring to fall, water when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry. Reduce watering in winter.

Fertilizing: Every Euphorbia will benefit from fertilizer. Apply a balanced fertilizer in a 10-10-10 NPK formulation, diluted to 1/4 strength once a week during the growing season.

Repotting: Euphorbias do not need to be repotted every year. When your Euphorbia debilispina is outgrowing its pot, it is time to repot the plant in a larger pot and give it a fresh potting mix.

Propagation: The easiest and fastest method of propagation for Euphorbia debilispina is by using cuttings. Euphorbia debilispina can also be grown from seeds but they can be difficult to germinate, even hard to find.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.

Toxicity of Euphorbia debilispina

All Euphorbias produce a white milky sap that is toxic and can cause irritation to the skin and eye. It is best to keep your Euphorbia debilispina away from children and pets.


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