Euphorbia aureoviridiflora (2016)

PhotoBy Judy Meyer (February 2016)

Euphorbia aureoviridiflora is a succulent now in the dormant stage here in St. Louis. It is native to the French Mountains in northern Madagascar.

According to Out of Africa owner Mike Massara, Euphorbia aureoviridiflora grows on cliffs, not in flat spaces. It is a leafy succulent, much like a deciduous plant. Mine has dropped all its leaves for the dormant period.

The plant needs a lot of water during the growing season and small amounts during dormancy. The 9.5-inch-tall plant has a twisting trunk, which makes this euphorbia a unique plant.

Euphorbia is a very large and diverse genus of flowering plants in the spurge Euphorbiaceae family. A few well-known euphorbias are the crown of thorns and poinsettias. Euphorbias range from tiny annual plants to large and long-lived trees.

Euphorbia antiquorum is the type species for the genus Euphorbia. It was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 in Species Plantarum.

Euphorbias have a white latexlike sap that is milky and poisonous. Their common name, “spurge,” derives from the Middle English/Old French word “espurge,” due to the use of the plant’s sap as a purgative. The botanical name Euphorbia comes from Euphorbos, the Greek physician of King Juba II of Numidia (52-50 B.C. to 23 A.D.), who married the daughter of Anthony and Cleopatra.

Many people have confused euphorbias with cacti, especially the stem succulents. Euphorbia flowers are usually tiny and nondescript, without petals and sepals.