Euphorbia milii (2010)

PhotoBy Lil Giessow (October 2010)

Euphorbia milii comes from southern Madagascar. In Wikipedia, I found 11 different varieties listed under that name. The Euphorbia milii nova variety that I received at our July meeting was not on this list. I was unable to find any specific information on the Internet describing this variety. I did find find one E. milii nova for sale on the Out of Africa website, which is also where my plant was purchased.

Euphorbia milii is a spiny shrub commonly called a crown of thorns. It is a frost-tender plant that appreciates a regular supply of water in a well-draining soil.

What look to be flower petals are actually bracts surrounding an insignificant flower. The bracts can be red, yellow or pink, depending on the variety. Hybrid varieties can have a large range of size in their bracts with different color combinations.

Many hybrid varieties have been cultivated, especially in Europe and Asia. The cultivars offer a wide palette of colors and varieties that emphasize special attributes. The German hybrid Somona, which crosses Euphorbia milii and E. lophogona, is a good example of this.

E. lophogona is a good pot plant that takes shade, flowers freely and has thick, shining leaves with grayish vein markings but is not self-branching. The Somona hybrids are self-branching with deep-green, often large, thick leaves. They are free-flowering plants that create flowers within flowers with coloring that ranges from cream to shades of pink and red.

“Poysean” is the name that Chinese immigrants in Thailand gave to Euphorbia milii. It means eight saints, after the eight saints of Chinese mythology, each one representing a different force: health, bravery, riches, beauty, intelligence, poetry and the ability to overcome evil.

Euphorbia milii typically have eight flowers in each bunch, hence this name. The Thais believe that keeping poysean outside their homes brings these positive forces to the houses and their owners.