Euphorbia esculenta, commonly known as The True "Vingerpol," is one of the Medusoid Euphorbias and comes from the south-central part of South Africa, an inland area that gets occasional freezes in winter.
It is a spring-blooming plant. Its cyathia, the cup-like structures holding the flowers, are clustered at the ends of the branches. They resemble little tufts of cotton candy with the greenish-yellow stigmas and the anthers with their yellow pollen, emerging from the wool. After the flowers are pollinated, they develop pea-sized rounded shiny-green fruits bearing little tan or brown seeds. These are ejected explosively when the fruits ripen so that the seedlings can come up some distance away.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Euphorbia esculenta is an easy species to grow that is suited for any well-drained soil in full sun. It is cultivated as an ornamental and is a particular favorite of succulent plant enthusiasts. It is a relatively slow-growing and long-lived plant, and once established, it will be content in its position and with its soil for years.
This plant likes a deep pot with generous drain holes to accommodate its tap root, needs a very airy potting medium very permeable to water which mainly consists of nonorganic material such as clay, pumice, lava grit, expanded slate, and only a little peat or leaf-mold. Re-pot every two years.
It can tolerate moderate shade, and a plant that has been growing in the shade should be slowly hardened off before placing it in full sun as the plant will be severely scorched if moved too suddenly from shade into sun.
Water regularly during the active growing season. No water should ever be allowed to stand around the roots. Keep almost completely dry in winter. However, Euphorbia esculenta will tolerate dryness and can even thrives in poor, dry soils but do better when grown in nutrient-rich soils with regular watering.
This plant has tolerated temperatures down to 21 ºF (–6 ºC) and even a little snow. However, it can be difficult to get it to look its best without a good amount of heat and sun.
As with all other Euphorbias, when a plant gets damaged, it exudes a thick white milky sap known as latex. This latex is poisonous and may irritate the skin. Pay extreme attention not to get any in your eyes or mouth. Cultivated plants must be handled carefully.
Euphorbia esculenta can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate. It is usually propagated by cuttings. Rooting hormone is recommended.
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