Euphorbia hedyotoides (2009)

PhotoBy Barbara Wedler (July 2009)

Euphorbia hedyotoides grows in habitat in southern Madagascar in Alluadia “spiny forests” between Amboasary and Fort Dauphin. Like many plants and animals native to Madagascar, E. hedyotoides is considered endangered. It is on the International Union of Conservation of Nature “red list” of threatened and endangered plants. This is due primarily to habitat loss.

However, E. hedyotoides apparently is not difficult to grow. It can be grown from seeds, root cuttings or stem cuttings. Plants from cuttings probably will not produce the wonderful large underground caudex. Instead, these plants form thickened, knotty roots.

Euphorbia hedyotoides has woody stems and non-succulent leaves that are very thin and dark green. The plants can get quite bushy with branches up to 5 feet tall. It blooms in early spring, and if pollination occurs, seeds ripen in May in the Northern Hemisphere. It can bloom a second time in late summer.

The flowers are a dull red or yellow color for the cyanthia with cream-colored stamens. (A cyanthium is a flower cluster containing unisexual male and female flowers). My information said that E. hedyotoides is dioecious with single-sex flowers on a plant, either male or female, so it is not capable of self-pollination.

Euphorbia hedyotoides likes well-drained soil and light sun or partial shade. It needs moderate winter temperatures with a minimum of 50 degrees F and a minimum average temperature of 60 degrees. This plant should be kept quite dry in winter and watered frequently in summer. The area in Madagascar where E. hedyotoides grows receives on average about 75 days of rain annually, most between April and October.