The Canary Island Spurge ‘Euphorbia Canariensis’

Euphorbia Canariensis Image

Originally from the Canary Islands, Euphorbia Canariensis has several common names, including Hercules Club, Canary Islands Spurge and Canary, etc. Besides standard terms, it may also be referred to as Tithymalus Canariensis or Torfosodis Canariensis scientifically.

Morphological Characteristics

Stem and Branches

This plant is characterized by thick branches that tend upwards. Each chapter usually has four sides, although some can have six sides. The typical appearance is of one stem producing multiple branches, typically up to a hundred and fifty. These branches have a vertical orientation so that the plant looks somewhat like a candlestick with various candle holders.

This plant’s branches and stem are green with some touches of red, which mainly occur on the edges where the two sides meet. Besides the different pigmentation, the point of intersection between the two sides is also characterized by the presence of short, dark spines that run the entire length of the corner.

It is a big plant that requires space to display the complete resplendence of its beauty. It can reach up to eight feet in height up to six feet wide due to the many branches they produce. This is the height they get to when cultivated, but they can be even taller in the wild, reaching up to twelve feet.

However, the size of the plant depends on where you plant it. You can plant it on beds, in Mediterranean coastal gardens, and in pots in the house. When managed under house culture, the plant usually doesn’t grow beyond one meter tall, so you can easily keep it indoors.

Spines of Euphorbia Canariensis

Spines are one of the most distinguishing characteristics of plants in the genus euphorbia, so they are not unique to this outstanding plant. They appear in pairs at relatively equidistant intervals, and they are shiny, making them part of the plant’s attraction.

Flowers in Euphorbia Canariensis

Besides spines, corners of the stem and branches are where the plant’s flowers are located. The flowers appear in towards the end of spring, and they are reddish-green. The flowers form clusters comprising a single female flower surrounded by several male flowers. This arrangement allows it to self-pollinate.

Leaves

This tree doesn’t have leaves, and photosynthesis happens through its stems and branches.

Sap and Toxicity

Like other members of the Euphorbia genus, Euphoria Canariensis produces a large amount of white sap, also known as lumber, when injured. The milky sap has diterpenes, and it is, therefore, highly toxic; it irritates when it comes to contact with the skin. Sometimes it can produce blisters.
The sap is even more toxic to the eyes, and when ingested, it can easily lead to blindness for both humans and animals. The only known animal that is resistant to its toxicity is the gorilla. Since you are unlikely to have a pet gorilla, keep the plant away from pets and children and always wear protective clothing when working on it.

Euphorbia Canariensis Care

Euphorbia Canariensis Care
Photo by @arta.cactus via Instagram

The following are some careful considerations and practices for this plant.

Lighting and Placement

The Hercules club needs direct and indirect sunlight, and it rarely has problems with intense sunlight throughout the day. Sunlight is essential for its growth and blooming like it is with every other plant, and your plant needs even more of it in spring and summer, which are its seasons of change. It also blooms in spring, further increasing its need for sunlight.

If you grow this plant under house culture, ensure it gets at least three hours of direct sunlight every day. One way of getting the necessary sunning is by keeping your plant next to a window that allows sunlight into the house; western and southern windows are the best for this. Keep the plants within one inch of the window to ensure they get as much sunlight as possible. It is essential to turn the plant around to get enough sun on all sides. It will have lopsided growth if you only sun one side.

The best temperature for the growth of this plant is between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 to 29 degrees Celsius. This shows that the plant requires relatively high temperatures to thrive. It is not frost-hardy, and freezing temperatures can quickly destroy it. With this in mind, consider the temperature of your area before you decide to grow the plant.

If you experience prolonged, freezing winters, avoid planting it outdoors and only keep it where you can control the temperature. Euphorbia Canariensis may be able to resist up to -2o C, but only when the winter ends on time. The plant won’t give you the best results until it reaches the 16oC threshold. It can withstand much higher temperatures than its optimum 29oC indicated above.

Soil for Euphorbia Canariensis

The best soil to grow this plant is well-draining and gritty. This plant is drought resistant which means that it is adapted to survive even when the ground is pretty lean. So while the soil’s nutritional content is a consideration, it is not as important as how well draining it is. Gritty soil allows water to pass through easily, keeping your plant from waterlogging. Waterlogging is the most severe threat to this otherwise easy to manage the plant.

If you are planting it in a garden, ensure the soil has the appropriate amount of gravel; introduce it if it doesn’t appear naturally by digging big holes and filling them with sandy soil before planting. If you are interested in house culture, use cactus mix and enhance its ability to drain by adding grit or pumice to it. You may include a little organic matter to help it hold some moisture.

If you have planted the plant in a pot, how well-draining the soil goes hand in hand with whether your pot has drainage holes. This is because if the water passes through the ground only to settle at the pot’s base. It will cause root rot which is the main problem with waterlogging.

Watering

It would help if you approached watering to understand the danger of waterlogging. The plant needs adequate water for its metabolic functions, and these increase in spring and summer since that is when the plant grows. How often you water your plant should be informed by how quickly the water gets used up by the plant or through evaporation.

Constantly water your plant when the soil is dry. If the top three inches are dry, go ahead and water but avoid watering if they are not. The watering rate will increase in spring and summer due to additional warmth and more moisture.

You will soon learn your plant’s rhythm to know exactly when to water it. It is unlikely you will need to water it in winter, but you can still go ahead and give it a small drink if you notice symptoms of dehydration.

Fertilizer

Euphorbia Canariensis requires feeding from time to time. The best way to provide it is using liquid fertilizer explicitly made for succulents. You should mix the fertilizer to half strength and feed the plant twice per month in spring and summer. It needs no fertilizer during its dormancy in winter and the fall.

Pests and Diseases in Euphorbia Canariensis

This plant is toxic to most animals, so you don’t have to worry about deer and other mammals feeding on it. This is one of the reasons it is so good as a hedge. Insects are another matter; mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites can attack it. But they are pretty easy to control.

You can eliminate the pests by rubbing the affected parts with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Spraying with diluted liquid detergent is another method, and you can also spread the plant with plant-based pesticides such as neem and Pyrethrum. If you don’t want to use the above techniques, you can dislodge the pests with high-pressure water. This method is only effective in the early stages of an infestation.

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Pruning

These plants can grow to humongous dimensions, and their growth needs to be managed. You can prune the plant due to space constraints, significantly growing it in a garden. It might end up dominating the entire garden if you leave it alone. It is also advisable to remove some branches to be air circulation in the plant and allow light through the branches to keep the plant healthy and enable it to bloom.

Pruning is also a part of grooming, where you cut off some of the old branches to keep the plant looking fresh. Ensure you are suited to protect your eyes and skin before pruning. The best time to prune is at the end of winter or the beginning of spring. Timing the pruning this way allows the plant to recover quickly in spring.

Propagation of Euphorbia Canariensis

The best time to propagate this succulent is spring since it is the beginning of the plant’s growing season. You can reproduce it with either seeds or cuttings as follows.

#1. Propagation by Seeds

You can collect seeds that have fallen at the foot of the tree and plant them on well-drained soil with some moisture and organic matter. Keep at a place with sufficient indirect sunlight and keep the soil warm. When the seeds germinate, allow them to get established before transplanting them or moving them to their permanent position. At this time, the seedling needs a little more attention. Shield it from extreme temperatures and dryness until it is established.

#2. Propagation by Cuttings

Follow the following steps.

  1. Put on your gloves and goggles to protect your skin and eyes from the toxic milky sap that will run from the plant.
  2. Take your cutting tool, whether a knife or pruner and wipe it with alcohol wipes. If you don’t have alcohol wipes, dip a piece of cotton wool into the spirit and swab the cutting tool with it. Sterilizing the instrument is an integral part of the process as it ensures neither the daughter nor mother plant gets infected with any disease that might be on the tool.
  3. The plant has branches referred to as arms. With your now sterilized tool, cut one stem at the base. The stem will start oozing sap. Rinse the cutting with cold water to stop it from oozing. Coldwater causes the lumber to thicken fast.
  4. Allow the cutting to dry off by keeping it under a shade for seven days. Please note that the cutting might still root if you planted it without allowing it to callus. However, the cutting will be susceptible to rotting.
  5. Put your potting mix into one of the pots, and plant the cutting in it.
  6. Place the cutting away from direct sunlight and moisten the soil. Build a shade for the cuttings by planting them outside, like a hedge. If the sun is scorching, remove it after the plants are established.

Once the cutting roots, move it to direct sunlight but keep watering it until it is a well-established tree.

Final Thought

Like many plants that fall under euphorbias, this is easy to manage. Remember to keep it out of reach of children and pets due to its toxicity. The sap from a Euphorbia plant is sticky and irritating. Make sure to wash several times when you got Euphorbia sap. Here are a few more interesting reads for you on Succulent City:

Succulent City chief editor

ABOUT ME

Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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