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Accepted Scientific Name: Euphorbia submamillaris (A.Berger) A.Berger
Sukkul. Euphorb. 95 1907 publ. 1906. A.Berger
Origin and Habitat: It is known only as a cultivar.
Euphorbia submamillaris (A.Berger) A.Berger
Sukkul. Euphorb. 95 1907 publ. 1906.
- Euphorbia submamillaris (A.Berger) A.Berger
- Euphorbia submammillaris f. pfersdorfii hort.
- Euphorbia pfersdorfii hort.
ENGLISH: Pickaninny toes, Kaffirtoes, Maternity Ward Euphorbia
RUSSIAN (Русский): Молочай пферсдорфа
Description: Euphorbia submammillaris f. pfersdorfii (Euphorbia pfersdorfii) is a curious and rare plant, showing extreme reduction in stems size. It is supposed by some to be a mutant form of Euphorbia submammillaris or maybe an hybrid. It produces innumerable small, few-angled branchlets and forms compact crowded cushions. It is known only as a cultivars.
Stem (branches): Clavate 2-5(-8) mm in diameter, 5-45 (or more) mm tall, 5-ribbed, with tooth-like tubercles, bright green. As the stems continue to grow, they will become brown and woody looking, except for the green buttons on the top.
Spines: The “spines” are indeed solitary lignified reddish inflorescence stems sterile c. 5-10 mm long long, with 3 - 4 small bracts.
Leaves: Short-lived, lanceolate (about 5 mm long).
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Euphorbia submammillaris group
- Euphorbia cv. Multiprolifera: forms large crowded clumps composed by thousands of tiny heads. It is similar to Euphorbia submammillaris f. pfersdorfii (if not the same) and presumably of hybrid origin.
- Euphorbia sp. (as submamillaris) hort.: has larger, stouter and less branches stems than standard "mammillaris". Ditribution: known only in cultivation and possibly a hybrid.
- Euphorbia submamillaris (A.Berger) A.Berger: is a densely branched dwarf-shrublets to 20 cm tall, forming compact clumps. It is known only in cultivation. (Supposed from wild plants found in South Africa, Cape Province)
- Euphorbia submammillaris f. pfersdorfii hort.: produces innumerable few-angled branchlets only few mm across and forms compact crowded cushions. It is known only as a cultivars.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Alain Campbell White, Robert Allen Dyer, Boyd L. Sloane "The succelent Euphorbisae (southern Africa)" Abbey garden press, 1941.
2) W.G. Tolton “Canadian Florist” Volume 44 1949.
Euphorbia submammillaris f. pfersdorfii Photo by: Giuseppe Distefano
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Cultivation and Propagation: It is an easy to grow plant for pot culture.
Growth rate: It is a relatively rapidly growing species that will make large clumps whit hundreds or even thousands heads given the best conditions.
Soil: It grows well in a very draining mineral potting substrate, but it isn't picky about soil.
Repotting: Use pot with good drainage.
Watering: During the summer they enjoy average watering, but do not overwater (Rot prone), keep dry in winter.
Fertilization: Feed with a high potassium fertilizer in summer.
Hardiness: When dormant in winter, keep it totally dry at or around 4°C, even though it seems to tolerate light frosts well.
Exposure: They do need a lot of light to keep their compact growth-form. They get a rich purple tinge if grown in full sun, however some protection in light shade is recommended during the hottest hours in summer.
Uses: It is an excellent plant for container growing. It always looks good and stays small. It looks fine in a cold greenhouse and frame.
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.
Rot: Rot it is only a minor problem with Euphorbias if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: It is propagated by cuttings (It branches enthusiastically, and offsets are readily available). If you remove an offset, remember to let it dry for some days, letting the wound heal (cuttings planted too soon easily rot before they can grow roots). Lay it on the soil and insert the stem end partially into the substrate. Try to keep the cutting somewhat upright so that the roots are able to grow downward. It is better to wash the cut to remove the latex.
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