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Euphorbia pulvinata

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Euphorbia pulvinata
This is a beautiful compact species that provides a magnificent view.  Unfortunately these plants are seldom found in collections.  The rounder forms are often very pretty and appreciated by collectors.
 

Description: Low-growing clumping globular succulent, that in nature forms impressive giant pulvini (cushions) up to three meters in height, composed of several thousands of little heads of just four to five centimetres in diameter. Some very old plants must have 40.000 heads or more!!!
Stem: Short,  globose to columnar. The most common form in cultivation (depicted in this page) has compact fat globular heads that seldom exceed 30 cm in  height.
Spines: White to purple (depending on the season)

Note: Euphorbia pulvinata has a large area of distribution, and is a very variable species. The plants from the northern distribution area differ clearly from those of the south: one forming dense cushions of up to 30 cm in height, the other with few stems, up to 1 m high (The small one is the most common in cultivation). The difference between populations is the frequency of the appearance in which these forms occur. So it can happen that two individuals of two different populations can look very similar and also, two plants of the same population can look very different. However when you are looking at the whole population, you can see the difference of one population from another.
 


In the wild, Euphorbia pulvinata will form huge clumps with up to 40.000 heads (or more) which resemble giant green termite mounds.

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Family: Euphorbiaceae

Scientific name:  Euphorbia pulvinata Marloth

Introduction: Euphorbia pulvinata belongs to a group of plants, together with the closely related species Euphorbia ferox and Euphorbia aggregata, which can be recognised by their striking growing-shape. They consist mostly of compact, multiple branched and heavily thorny cushions. These species are closely related, and for an outsider it's very difficult to distinguish them. There are differences, though.

Origin: South Africa (Natal), Lesotho It is located from the south at Queenstown, to the north, through and along Lesotho, the Drakensbergen, Free State and kwazulu Natal up to  Zoutpansbergen in the Northern Province.

Habitat: Euphorbia ferox grows in areas with a lot of rain, up to 1000 mm per year, and even with snow sometimes.

At some locations it is the most dominant vegetation, often growing together with Euphorbia esculenta and Euphorbia mammillaris.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Common NamePincushion Euphorbia

 



Flowers.

Cultivation: It is a pretty easy species.  It grows well in a very draining mineral potting substrate, but it isn't picky about soil.  The area where this plant is native receives rain both in winter and summer, so it can be watered moderately all year around (except in the coldest month of the winter as it rots easily, especially if over wet ).
During the summer, they enjoy average feeding and watering. Mature healthy plants are tough, and can also be grown out of doors where frost is not too severe.  When dormant, the plant is very cold tolerant (down to nearly -9 C or less), but when left out it is more sensitive to frost. They do need a lot of light to keep their compact growth-form, but different clones vary in their tolerance of full sunshine.

Propagation: It is propagated  by cuttings (It branchs enthusiastically, and offsets are readily available) If you remove an offset, remember to let it dry for a week or so, letting the wound heal (cuttings planted too soon easily rot before they can grow roots).  It is better to wash the cut to remove the latex.

Warning: As with all other Euphorbias, when a plant gets damaged it exudes a thick white milky sap known as latex. This latex is poisonous and may irritate skin, so pay extreme attention not to get any in your eyes or mouth.
Cultivated plants must be handled carefully.

 
Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Encyclopaedia of Succulents. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.