Euphorbia flanaganii f. cristata
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Synonyms of Euphorbia flanaganii (2) (Updated on 12-22-22 from Plants of the World Online): Euphorbia discreta N.E.Br., Euphorbia passa N.E.Br. There were six on the last update in November 22 in 2021, but the other four became accepted species.
Euphorbia flanaganii N.E.Br. is the accepted scientific name of this species of Euphorbia. It was named and described as such by Nicholas Edward Brown in Flora Capensis in 1915.
The genus, Euphorbia L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 12-22-21 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 2,087 species in the Euphorbia genus. It is a member of the plant family Euphorbiaceae with 227 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
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I brought my Euphorbia flanaganii f. cristata home from Lowe’s on April 20, 2013. This species is very fast growing for sure and it soon started growing branches in every direction. The common name for the species is Medusa Plant or Medusa Head because of its snake-like arms which resemble locks of hair. The central stem merges into roots forming a caudex ( or tuberous body) with branches coming from it, which is an example of a Fibonacci spiral. There are two types of cristata forms, branch cristation and caudex cristation. I think mine is the branch cristation, and it seems to be the most common in the trade. Keep in mind this is not a cactus. It is a succulent. Well, cacti are succulents but succulents are not cacti.
Euphorbia flanaganii prefers a sunny spot but will go OK in some shade. They like fairly dry, even in the summer and very little in the winter. I put mine on the windowsill in the kitchen along with several other succulents. Mom, who was 83 at the time, thought they should be watered almost every day and I was continuously emptying water from the saucers… But, that was OK… She used to grow A LOT of African Violets.
Origin: The species is from South Africa but the cristata form can appear in nature or in cultivation.
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25 to 40° F/-3.8 to 4.5° C)
Light: Sun to light shade. They like the sun, but if you have kept them inside over winter, you need to introduce them to the sun gradually or they will burn.
Soil: Fast draining. Good quality potting soil amended with pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
Water: They don’t seem to like a lot of water, even during their growing period, and barely if any during the cooler months. Euphorbia are winter dormant.
Flowers: Chartreuse flowers appear in the spring if you are lucky. I think mutations seldom, if ever, flower.
I hope you enjoyed my tribute to the Euphorbia flanaganii f. cristata. I enjoyed growing this plant because you just never knew what it was going to do next. Being on the kitchen windowsill it received a good amount of morning sun which wasn’t enough. I didn’t put it outside because I started having a problem with crickets and I didn’t want them to nibble on it like they did many of my other cacti and succulents.
Unfortunately, this plant eventually rotted and died but someday I will run across another Euphorbia flanaganii f. cristata. I also want a “normal” Euphorbia flanaganii. I would like to give it another shot since I know more about growing cacti and succulents as companions.
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