Euphorbia pentagona is a beautiful species with thin finger-sized
stems that tend to be 5- to 6-ribbed .
The cyathia are purplish.
Flowers have striking dark
Warning: As with all other Euphorbias, when a
plant get damaged it exudes a thick white milky sap known as latex. This
latex is poisonous and may irritate skin. Pay
extreme attention not to get any in your eyes or mouth.
Cultivated plants must be handled carefully.
Scientific name: Euphorbia
In: Philos. Mag. Ann: Chem. 1828: 187, 1828
Origin: Eastern Cape, South Africa. Altitude 120-600 m.
- Euphorbia heptagona A. Berger
Royle 1836 (Nom. Illeg., art 53.1) is a very different species referable
to Euphorbia royleana
Conservation status: Listed in
CITES appendix 2.
Common Name: Pincushion Euphorbia
E. pentagona belongs
to the Euphorbia section 19 a large group of spiny shrubs that
includes Euphorbia aggregata, enopla, mammillaris, anoplia,
ferox, heptagona, and polygona which are all
similar in form.
In particular E. pentagona looks like
E. enopla and often the plant sold and labelled
E. pentagona .
Description: A compact
perennial cactus-like shrub with prominent ribs that freely branches
above and can grow 2,5- 3 m tall.
Stem: Thin columnar, erect, rebranching often in whorls, 1-4 cm
thick, bright glossy green or dark green turning grey with age.
Ribs: 5-6, deeply grooved between, whit shallow tubercles.
Spines: The solitary “spines” are sterile dry peduncles up to 1,5
cm long, each with 2-3 tiny bracts, they are pinkish and finally
Leaves: Up to 4 mm long, liner and early deciduous.
Flowers: The buff-lavender to purplish
cyathia are small (
approx 4 mm in diameter) and borne at the branch tips. The are solitary
or in 2-3 rayed cymes, peduncles short, often persistent. Nectar glands
Fruits: Subglobose, approx 6 mm in diameter,
Cultivation: Common and relatively easy to grow plant for pot
culture. 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
rains both in winter and summer, so it can be watered moderately all
year around (except in the coldest month of the winter, as it rot easily
,especially if over-wet). During the summer, they enjoy average feeding
and watering. When dormant in winter, keep it totally dry at or around
4°C, even though it seems to tolerate light frosts well. Mature healthy
plants are tough and can also be grown outside where frost is not too
severe, 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. The plants that are not kept
in full sun grow faster, but became untidy and may need support as they
get larger, or branches fall off. But if grown in the protection of
light shade, the thick purple spines of this low-growing clumping
columnar plant have the best colour. Sometimes, in really hot full sun
all day long, a plant will bleach out a bit. It soon grows into a
large, many stemmed specimen, and it can fill a 30 cm bowl. It is also
a prolific bloomer, and makes a spectacular specimen.
Propagation: It is
propagated by cuttings or seeds. It branches 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. The seed can be sown just under the surface in
normal seedling trays in a sandy seed mix. Germination usually occurs
within 1 - 3 weeks.
- The villagers use as fuel the withered stems of
Euphorbia pentagona and thorny bushes.
- It is also a common plant used for making