Euphorbia hadramautica (2011)

By Chris Deem (April 2011)

There are only five now. They all that remain of a once-large equine troop. They are emaciated and as gray as the harsh, dry landscape of Somalia.

For days they have wandered desperately, without a destination. Suddenly, their cracked hooves quicken at the sight of a few thin deciduous leaves. Tragically, these plants are not small dorstenias, but leaf-scarred euphorbia plants growing among the hot, broken stones.

Enraged, the trembling oldest mare turns and bites a frail companion, while crushing a dark-green stem with her hoof. The plant’s toxic latex splatters across a large flat stone. For a moment, her barren eyes look down upon the crushed plant, without pity. For the next several minutes, she looks toward the horizon. After that, they slowly move on.

I read about Euphorbia hadramautica in Euphorbia Journal, Volume 2. There is a very good picture of it on page 112 and an interesting word – petiole, which I learned is a leaf stalk. This plant is found in Arabia, Somalia and Ethiopia.

The writer seemed to speculate that this species could be an “ephemeral succulent.” Ephemeral is a word that means to live for a brief time.

This plant is said to be related to a dioecious South African euphorbia named E. bupleurifolia. Euphorbia hadramautic is supposed to be rather rare in cultivation, so if you don’t have one, why not bring in your favorite euphorbia and share its story?