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Euphorbia flanaganii (Medusa's Head)

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Scientific Name

Euphorbia flanaganii N. E. Br.

Common Names

Medusa's Head, Medusa Head

Synonyms

Euphorbia discreta, Euphorbia ernestii, Euphorbia franksiae, Euphorbia gatbergensis, Euphorbia passa, Euphorbia woodii

Scientific Classification

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

Description

Euphorbia flanaganii is a small succulent with a swollen underground stem and cylindrical, snake-like branches that grow flat on the ground. The branches spread up to 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter. Leaves are up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long with a linear to acute shape. Clusters of yellow cyathia appear in summer, usually in the central part of the plant on the apex of the stem.

Photo via biolib.cz

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Unlike most succulents, Medusa's Head 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. It warns of a lack of water by gradually curling up its arms toward the center. Water deeply, but don't let them sit in wet soil, which can cause root rot.

It thrives under direct sun and needs at least 6 hours of direct sun per day for decent health and growth. On brighter subjects, Medusa's Head makes an exceptional container plant and it can also be put into gardens so long as it is protected from freezes.

Once it reaches a certain size, a mother plant will produce pups on the ends of older arms. The growth starts as a swelling at the end of an arm and rapidly grows its own caudex and arms. After a time, if they don't root on their own, the arm shrivels and allows the pup to roll away, where it rapidly grows if given access to soil and water. If you're not careful, you can end up with a whole greenhouse full of them.

Learn more a How to Grow and Care for a Medusa's Head (Euphorbia flanaganii).

Origin

Euphorbia flanaganii is native to South Africa (Cape Province).

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