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Euphorbia flanaganii (Medusa's Head)


Scientific Name

Euphorbia flanaganii N. E. Br.

Common Names

Medusa's Head, Medusa Head


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

Scientific Classification

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


Euphorbia flanaganii is a dwarf succulent with a swollen underground stem. The cylindrical branches grow flat on the ground, spreading horizontally up to 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter. The leaves are with a linear to acute shape and up to 0.4 inch (1 cm) long. The flowers are cyathia, clustered on the central branches. They are usually formed on the central part of the plant, on the apex of the stem, sometimes on the inner young branches.

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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).


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

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids


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