Finger Spurge/Euphorbia Tirucalli
The Spurge family is one of the largest in the plant kingdom, ranging from Arctic plants to those found in tropical rock pools. None of the Spurges has true flowers, just the male or female parts that sometimes are surrounded by coloured leaves (such as in).
Whileare all native to the Americas, many of the Euphorbias have evolved to similar forms. This is particularly so in Africa, which spans similar latitudes to America. There are over 1200 succulent species of , many of which are very attractive spiky specimens.
The Finger Spurge has slender, erect stems that grow into a bush and later into a tree. Like all Euphorbias, the sap is a poisonous latex, and you should avoid contact with the skin or more tender parts of the body.
The rubbery latex is difficult to remove with soap and water, but is easily removed with paraffin.
Because this plant can survive warm and very arid conditions, it was considered as a commercial crop in the United States. During the oil shortages of the last decade, it was grown in some of the desert areas in the southern states to determine if it was commercially viable to grow it and then distil the latex to make petrol. Although feasible, economically it was impractical.
The Finger Spurge is easy to grow, but not tolerant of low temperatures in Winter, even if kept fairly dry. Like most plants it will benefit from good ventilation, but not draughts.
These plants require a bright situation at all times and will grow well in a South-facing window.
Plants should be watered well during the Spring and Summer: allow theto dry before watering again. During the Autumn and Winter, keep fairly dry, giving only enough water to prevent shrivelling. This plant will soon rot if kept wet at low temperatures.
As a native of very arid areas, the Finger Spurge will benefit from a dry atmosphere.
Feed regularly every 1-2 weeks during the Spring and Summer, using afood, or one recommended for tomatoes diluted at about half strength.
This plant will do best in a well-drained compost containing about one third by volume of horticultural grit. Repot the Finger Spurge at least every two years.
Small specimens of this succulent are rather like – green sticks in a pot. Therefore, plants should be grown well and repotted whenever necessary to obtain the maximum growth. Any long, straggly stems should be removed with a sharp knife and the cut surfaces dipped into or sprayed with water to stop them from bleeding.
Blackened stems: This plant is not particularly prone to pests or diseases; however, blackening of the stems is usually a sign of rot, due to over-watering or keeping the plant at too low a temperature (below about 13°C/55°F).