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Euphorbia obesa (Baseball Plant)


Scientific Name

Euphorbia obesa Hook.

Common Names

Basketball, Basketball Plant, Baseball, Baseball Plant, Baseball Cactus, Gingham, Golf Ball, Living Baseball, Sea Urchin


Euphorbia obesa subsp. obesa, Euphorbia obesa subsp. symmetrica, Euphorbia symmetrica

Scientific Classification

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


This species is native to South Africa, mainly found in Great Karoo, south of Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape.


Euphorbia obesa is a small succulent with a ball-shaped, usually solitary stem that becomes cylindrical with age. The stem is grey-green marked with horizontal red-brown or purple bands. It grows up to 8 inches (30 cm) tall, up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, and almost always has eight slightly raised ribs. Tiny leaves fall off very soon after appearing. Male and female flowers are born on different plants. They are yellow and appear in summer on branched stalks at the top of the stem. Fruits are small, 3-angled capsules.

The specific epithet "obesa" derives from the Latin "obesus," meaning " fat, stout or plump" and refers to the fleshy rounded stem.

Euphorbia obesa (Baseball Plant)

How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia obesa

Light: Most Euphorbias are sun lovers, but some will tolerate partial shade. Place your indoor Euphorbias on windows with southern or southeastern exposure.

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: Euphorbia obesa 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 of soil feels dry. Reduce watering in winter, give them just enough water to prevent wilting.

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 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 many species is by using cuttings. Euphorbias 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 obesa

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

Forms of Euphorbia obesa


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