From many confused with the most known cacti, the euphorbias are succulent succulent succulent succulent plants endowed with morphological characteristics which, on closer observation, show the presence of single or more often coupled, robust, straight or twisted thorns, carried on a cylindrical or angular stem with a number of ribs varying from 3 to more than 10, of green, grey, possibly variegated of white or yellow color.
Usually, few are the leaves, in many early deciduous species, mostly carried on the top of the branches. The appearance is as varied as one might think: creeping, low-arbustive, large shrub, tree with many branches (Euphorbia candelabrum).
Of the about 2.000 species of the genus Euphorbia, about 800 are considered succulent; these last ones live in Africa, mainly southern, in the Arabian Peninsula and in some areas of tropical central Asia.
Euphorbias: Those Small Inflorescences
The euphorbias are characterized by a particular inflorescence, the cyathia, which superficially resembles a single flower.
Often ignored by careless collectors, this structure is an admirable example of reproductive efficiency: the female flower is placed in the centre with its ovary and around it there are at least 5 male flowers formed by the stamens; around the sexual organs are inserted the appendages which, with their colors (yellow, white, red, orange) exalt their beauty.
In the most beautiful euphorbias the cyathia are gathered in umbrellas accompanied by colored leaves called bracts.
Many Species Of Euphorbias: Which To Choose?
If we want a small tree completely green then we can plant in our garden a beautiful Euphorbia abyssinica that will reach a height of 6 meters, or a more contained Euphorbia triangularis (3-4 meters): both branch out harmoniously taking a candelabrum shape.
Among the shrubby species of euphorbias the choice is very wide. The large Euphorbia grandicornis is impenetrable and disorderly, the more elegant and sinuous Euphorbia cooperi with single triangular articles, with small pencil-shaped twigs Euphorbia tirucalli.
If we want a species with brightly colored bracts in red then we will opt for the beautiful Euphorbia milii, known to all as the “Crown of Christ”. For narrow spaces and small collections I recommend the Euphorbia obesa and Euphorbia meloformis, with simple and globular stem, of short stature.
For species that breed and produce many branches it is easy to use the propagation method by cutting, a process that can be speeded up through the use of rooting hormones.
The Right Pairings
To correctly insert our euphorbias in the green spaces we have, we need to know the final size of the specimens, planting the tree species in places where their growth is not hindered, avoiding the proximity to other trees, walls and houses.
It is good to stay at a distance of at least 3-4 meters from the other elements of the garden.
If, on the contrary, the species we have chosen are shrubby, then we can integrate the garden of the succulent plants, inserting them also here so that their vigor does not suffocate that of the more modest globular cacti, crassulae, aloes and agaves.
The soil should be well drained, exposed to the sun, free from weeds; white pebbles scattered at the base of the euphorbias enhance their green color and shape.