euphorbia engels

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The euphorbia is often confused for a cactus. But it isnt. Cacti are native only to the Americas and the succulent euphorbia family (Euphorbiacea) is native to Africa. To the family euphorbia belong in contrast to the cacti also "ordinary" plants. 
There are in Holland garden plants, which belong to this family. 
Also the well-known
poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) and the weeds sun spurge are euphorbias.   
The name, Euphorbia, comes from King Juba of North Africa, who dedicated the plant in honour of his doctor Euphorbus.

Pointsettia, Christmas flower, Lobster flower, Mexican flame leaf. (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Pointsettia, Christmas flower, Lobster flower, Mexican flame leaf. (Euphorbia pulcherrima)        
In the Netherlands you can only buy this plant in December (Chrismas). The red parts of the poinsettia, the bracts, are actually modified leaves.
Nowadays there is a wide array of other colors available. The small yellow flower is situated in the middle of the bracts. 
Indirect sun and not to much water.
When you also want flowers next year: In May you can stop watering. When it drops its leaves, you have to cut the poinsettia back and to repot it.
Beginning October  the plant must be kept in complete darkness for 14 continuous hours each night. After 40 days of this treatment, the plant can be kept in normally lighted rooms. But you can also buy a new Pointsettia, for they are cheap.
The poinsettia is a native plant of Mexico Central America. The bushes can grow to approximately 4 m high.

a sun spurge (euphorbia helioscopia) and an euphorbia resinifera.   sun spurge (euphorbia helioscopia) and an euphorbia resin 

A sun spurge (euphorbia helioscopia) had come up at a hibernating euphorbia resinifera.
As many succulent euphorbias it has many
side arms. At the end of April I have made an other photo. 


Most succulent Euphorbiaceae contain a poisonous sap which exudes from the tiniest injuries or sometimes even when only touching the plant. Typically this sap is milky white and sets into a latex.

 In some species the poison is only mild, but in others it is dangerous. Irritant for skin and eye.

There are many shapes and sizes (shrubs, trees, columns, balls, ground cover, medusa head)
Medusa head
forms heads with lots of limbs growing from the head, hence its name medusa for the Greek goddess with snakes for hair. The leaves are small and have a short life.
Often they have spines for protection
. Leaves in the succulent species are usually reduced or deciduous. Stipules are usually present, often modified into prickles and spines.
Flowers are small. But sometimes surrounded by beautiful showy bracts  

From the most species you can take cuttings. First the
cutting will dropping latex. But after couple of minutes the flow will stop, and then you have to clean the cutting with water. After the wound has been cleaned, the cutting should be left to heal for a week or two.  This period reduces the risk for the stem to rot. Rough sand is a good media for your cuttings.  After 6 weeks, the cuttings should have developed a root system. 
Unlike cactuses Euphorbias can grow in ordinary potting soil. They often prefer peat-based potting mixture.
The family contains over 2000 species!

Some good sites are:

Plants Belonging to the Genus 'Euphorbia'  

Sukkulente Euphorbien

Rikus van Veldhuisens und Jaap Keijzers U4BA

Still it is difficult to find the right name of your euphorbia. For there are so many species.

In summer most Euphorbias are in the garden, or on the terrace. It was remarkable, they had damage of the sun in the hottest month in 2006 and not of the Dutch bad weather.


Canary Island Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis). Canary Island Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis)

Canary Island Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis) Native of course to the Canary islands. It can reach a height of three meters. Hardy to -2C. Dark red flowers. Its one of the more poisonous spurges.  

Pencil tree or milk bush (Euphorbia tirucalli). Pencil tree or milk bush (Euphorbia tirucalli)

Pencil tree or milk bush (Euphorbia tirucalli) A bush or tree, up to 6 m tall.  But it can be pruned. Hardy to -4C for short periods. Native te east Africa.

African Milk Barrel (Euphorbia horrida) . African Milk Barrel (Euphorbia horrida)

African Milk Barrel (Euphorbia horrida) (I think) There are many varieties of this species. After some years it is sending up new stems from the base perhaps to form a small colony. This euphorbia is dioecious (there are male and female plants)  

Bigthorn Euphorbia, Big Horned Euphorbia, Cow Horn (Euphorbia grandicornis)s. Bigthorn Euphorbia, Big Horned Euphorbia, Cow Horn (Euphorbia grandicornis) 

Bigthorn Euphorbia, Big Horned Euphorbia, Cow Horn (Euphorbia grandicornis). It can reach 2 m height. It s a much-branched shrub. The branches are deeply constricted.  

Euphorbia enopla or heptagon.. Euphorbia enopla or heptagon.

Euphorbia enopla or heptagon. These species are similar. A clumping plant with stout finger sized stems. Native to South Africa. Both shrubs are about1 m. tall. 

Euphorbia enopla or heptagon.   Euphorbia enopla or heptagon.  

Euphorbia enopla or heptagon. flower on spine 16-4-2014

River Euphorbia (Euphorbia triangularis). River Euphorbia (Euphorbia triangularis)

River Euphorbia (Euphorbia triangularis) They typically have stout green-angled stems with between three and five flat sides. Height: 4 m. Native to South Africa.

African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona). African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona)

African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona) The cactus-like brances (with tiny spines and small leaves on the tip) start from the sides and get erect, growing upwards, up to 2,5m. Native to South Africa.

Resin spurge, Officinal Spurge (Euphorbia resinifera) . Resin spurge, Officinal Spurge (Euphorbia resinifera)

Resin spurge, Officinal Spurge  (Euphorbia resinifera) I think. It is a shrub growing to 60 cm tall, forming multi-stemmed cushion-shaped clumps up to 2 m wide. The stems are erect. Native to Morocco. Officinal: It is one of the oldest documented medicinal plants.  


Euphorbia valida I have this euphorbia for some years already. It forms clumps to 1 m wide. My plant remains small. Native to South Africa.

Euphorbia. Euphorbia pseudocactus (bloeiend). Euphorbia pseudocactus (bloeiend in de tuin 2007)

Euphorbia pseudocactus. A multi-branched succulent shrub with white spines, which is its name suggests resembles a cactus. Height 1 m. In 2006 it was flowering in February, March. In 2007 it was flowering in the garden in July.(top part of the plant) Native to South Africa.

Medusa head (Euphorbia caput-medusae). Medusa head (Euphorbia caput-medusae) . Medusa head (Euphorbia caput-medusae)

Medusa head (Euphorbia caput-medusae) I dont know witch. There are more species. The flowers on the photo are small. Native to South Africa.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii). Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii). Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii)

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii). This little shrub is a popular house plant. Many varieties and hybrids are available varying in flower size and color from red to yellow. It blooms freely most of the year. Native to Madagascar. Height 1 m.  

Euphorbia submammillaris

Euphorbia submammillaris. Miniature succulent shrub, clumps can be over 50 cm in diameter, stems are around 1 cm in diameter and 10 cm long. Native to South Africa.


Here you can find much more photos of  Euphorbias!!


Nederlands / Dutch         



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