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In habitat, South Africa.
Origin and Habitat: Little Namaqualand (Northern Cape), South Africa. Euphorbia ramiglans is found on the lower reaches of the Orange River east of Alexander Bay near Beauvallon and probably exists on the Namibian side as well.
Habitat and ecology: The plant grows in rather large populations in the dunes in the back land of Alexander Bay, where it appears together with Fenestraria aurantiaca, Lithops herrei, Psammophora modesta, and Juttadinteria procumbens. Its stems often are completely buried in the sand, from which only the attractive cyathia peeked through.
- Euphorbia ramiglans N.E.Br.
Description: Euphorbia ramiglans is dwarf attractive species similar in habit to Euphorbia caput-medusae, but with shorter tuberculate branches which must arise from a sunken central body. It never exceed 20 cm hight and 50 cm in diameter (but usually stay smaller and almost completely burried in the sand). It is especially pretty at flowering time. The flowers (cyathia) are solitary at the ends of the branches ands have much the same construction as those of Euphorbia tuberculata, with fingered glands, the yellow processes forked at their tips.
Derivation of specific name: The specific name ramiglans comes from the Latin words 'ramus', branch; and 'glans', gland; for the branched cyathial glands.
Main stem (caudex): Short, bole- or club-shaped up to 5 cm thick, merging with the stout, fleshy root.
Branches: Numerous upright, short, club-shaped, bluish green, 2,5-4 cm long (often longer in cultivation), 12-20 mm thick, radiating from the tuberculate growing point, covered with crowded spirally arranged podaria (tubercles ) that are rhomboid-conical in shape, 3-4 mm tsll, tipped with a whitish, tooth-like, leaf-scar, and glabrous.
Leaves: Deciduous and few in a small tuft at the apex of the branches, 5-9 mm long, bluish green, linear to lanceolate, blunt or subacute at the tip, channelled down the face, glabrous.
Inflorescence: Peduncles thick, solitary in the axils of the tubercles at the tips of the branches, 3-4(-15) mm long, bearing 1 cyathium and 2 or 3 small and very deciduous bracts.
Flowers (cyathia): 7-8(-15) mm in diameter, very attractive because of the nectar glands, shallowly cup-shaped, diagonally elliptical, glabrous outside, olive green to reddish with 5 glands and 5 erect subquadrate 2-toothed lobes and filled with white-woolly stamens. Glands spreading, subcontiguous, 1.5-2.5 mm in their greater diameter, transversely oblong, with 4–6 filiform processes 0.5-1.5 mm long on the outer margin, very much-branched at their tips. Interglandular bracts are green with reddish, tattered edges. Ovary sessile, sprinkled with rather long hairs. Styles united to the top into a slender column 3.5 mm long, with spreading cuneate and slightly 2-lobed stigmas 0.7 mm long.
Fruits: Subglobose, sparsely hairy, sessile.
Taxonomic note: According to Bruyns. the "caput-medusae" complex starts with Euphorbia marlothiana on the Cape Flats. (probably further cast in the form of Euphorbia muirii) and continues to the luxuriant Euphorbia caput-medusae on the well-watered slopes of Signal Hill at Cape Town, and northwards in the dry regions to Euphorbia tuberculata, and further north to Euphorbia ramiglans - all having the same basic floral structure.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Euphorbia caput-medusae group
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons” Springer Science & Business Media, 2002
2) N. E. Brown, J. Hutshinson and D. Prain “Flora Capensis”, Vol 5, Part 2, page 216, 1925
3) Doreen Court “Succulent Flora of Southern Africa” CRC Press, 01/June/2000
4) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
5) Archer, R.H., von Staden, L., Victor, J.E. & Raimondo, D. 2014. Euphorbia caput-medusae L. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. Accessed on 2017/07/30
6) “Cactus World: The Journal of the British Cactus & Succulent Society”, Volume 24 British Cactus & Succulent Society, 2006
7) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer Science & Business Media, 29 June 2013
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