It is a great looking blue stemmed Euphorbia freely branching
with many stems raising from the ground. It is characterized by periods
of rapid growth, designated by the wide sections, and minimal growth
which are the narrow sections.
E. cúrulescens is a
small, columnar, thorny, leafless, succulent shrub with a pretty
irregular shape. 0,5- 1.5 m tall that can sucker to nearly as wide.
It forms a tufted crown of thick, cactus-like, short branches divided
into many joints spreading by underground.
Stems: The branches are bluish-grey, erect, rarely re-branched,
ridged longitudinally with 4-6 angles, and constricted at intervals of
Leaves: Small, ephemeral, only present on young growth.
Spines: White to dark brown large, gnarly, up to 5 cm long in
Flowers: Inflorescences (Cymes) with 1 to 3 yellow flowers (cyathia)
borne near branch apices between spine-pairs on the thorny ridges.
Note: May easily be confused with E. virosa and
other large euphorbias. The differences lie in the number of scars left
by the cyathia when they fall, the shape of the capsule, and the shape
and branching of the stem. It is particularly similar to
E. avasmontana, but does not grow quite as large, the stem
segments are shorter, the crests of the ribs have a dark (as opposed to
a light colored) horny chitinous ridge bearing two-pronged 1-1,5 cm long
spines, and the colour of the stems is never bluish. It is nevertheless
a beautiful species and looks very much like a cactus species.
The leaves are small, scale-like and ephemeral, only present on young
Spines are straight, paired, joined in a horny margin,1-2 cm long
running up and down the full length of the columnar growths.
It is one of many South African Euphorbias that at
fist glace look a lot like each other. Very neat habit and makes a good
specimen landscape plant in a xeriscape garden. It can be grown in
large, rocky, well-drained soil in gardens in drier areas. It is very
drought resistant but susceptible to frost.
Cattle food: As with the other Euphorbias, its sap is poisonous,
but the plant can be used as animal fodder after drying. Although not
normally browsed by stock, the plant is eaten when cut into sections and
left to wilt for a few days. Apparently the burning taste of the latex
disappears, so that the plant becomes palatable to stock. Especially in
times of drought it is often used as supplementary fodder.
scientific name: Euphorbia
(Sometime mispelled E. caerulescens)
Common English Names include: Sweet Noor Succulent, Blue
Origin: Endemic to South Africa (Cape Province, Noorsveld area)
Habitat: Occurs on rocky outcrops mostly
on northern slopes of hills and mountains, occasionally found on
hilltops and in other habitats. It grows with rich a variety of
succulent species, but grasses are uncommon. It is often the dominant or
sub-dominant species of much of the vegetation which practically covers
large tracts of country.
Conservation status: Listed in
CITES appendix 2.
Etymology: Named for Euphorbus, Greek physician to
Juba II, King of Mauretania.
The species name comes from the Latin 'Coeruleus', = 'blue'
and refers to the bluish colour of the stems.
Cultivation: It is an easy species to grow that is suited for any
well drained soil in full sun. But young plant are happy growing
indoors. Give the plant an airy growing medium which mainly consists of
non organic material such us clay, pumice, lava grit, and only a little
peat or leaf-mould. Water regularly during the active growing season
from March to September. No water should ever be allowed to stand around
the roots. Keep almost completely dry in winter. It is a moderately fast
grower, and will quickly become large landscape masterpieces in just
5-10 years. Only downside is from strong winds, the columns often smash
into each other, causing permanent scarring... best to plant in such a
location where winds are not a big issue. It is a long lived plant
and once established, it will be content in its position and with its
soil for years. It can tolerate moderate shade, and a plant that has
been growing in shade should be slowly hardened off before placing it in
full sun as the plant will be severely scorched if moved too suddenly
from shade into sun. Like quite small pots, repot in very later winter,
early spring. Frost tender, frost free zones only.
Propagation: It is
easy to propagate by cuttings in late spring to summer, just take
a cutting of the plant let it dry for 1 or 2 weeks and stuff it in the
ground (preferably dry, loose, extremely well draining soil).
Warning: Its latex can
irritate the skin and produce a burning sensation in the throat if
ingested. Latex irritates the eye and can cause blindeness. If contact
is made with this white sap, take care to not touch face or eyes before
washing hands with soap and water.