The Crested Green Coral Succulent

Have you ever come across a plant that looks creepy but at the same time inviting? A plant that coils and curls itself around its habitat like a snake getting comfortable for a nap. The more you stare at it, the more you believe it belongs in a sci-fi movie about creatures from the future. If you have not seen it, may we suggest you have a look at the magnificent Crested Green Coral succulent.

The exceedingly rare and highly sought after Crested Green Coral Succulent has its roots in Africa. Its original habitat has been around the Eastern Cape, on the border to the former Transkei state, Kei Mouth, Mazeppa Bay, and Komgha districts in South Africa. The plant is scientifically known as Euphorbia flanaganii f. cristata and belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae.

The Succulent Named After Medusa

Known for its striking nature, this arresting house plant comes in two main varieties due to a genetic mutation in the plant’s structure. There are two types of cristata form. The caudex cristation grows with a central shoot that forms a snaky fan-shaped ridge with cylindrical lateral shoots protruding from it. The other species called branch cristation forms with a lateral shoot only and large pad-like leaves.

The first thing you notice about this succulent is the thick and curled, fan-shaped branches with deep green stems that protrude from the plant-like tentacles. The central stem merges into roots forming a tuberous body or caudex. This enticing pattern is what gives this succulent the name Crested Medusa’s Head. It also resembles something that should be at the bottom of the sea, hence the name Green Coral. As the plant grows, it creates a cushion-like mass with the lateral root snaking around the succulent.

The ‘tentacles’ sticking out of the plant are soft and narrow, and they inconspicuously develop fragrant chartreuse flowers in the spring. A full-grown Green Coral succulent can get to 6 inches (15 cm) tall and 12 inches (30 cm) wide. When under the sun’s full glare, the plant takes on a bronze color while during the winter, it can turn into a deep red hue.

Caring for the Crested Green Coral Succulent

The Green Coral loves to bask in the sun and will appreciate some light shade. For the plant to thrive, it requires at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. They are not big fans of the winter and would need to be kept indoors. They are a little sensitive and should be gradually introduced to the sun after the cold months; otherwise, they will suffer from sunburn.

This succulent does relish a fast-draining soil mix with extra pumice, grit, or perlite. Like most succulents, these plants are not water babies, and they cannot tolerate being wet. They can comfortably last through the winter with minimal watering and should be offered a drink once a week during the summer.

As the mother plant matures, it produces pups at the ends of the tentacles. The plant gets a bump or slight swelling at the end of an arm, and it gradually grows into its caudex and arms. If they are unable to find a spot to root, the new arm will shrivel to allow the pup to roll away from the main plant. If the pup gets access to soil and water, it multiplies and can cause an infestation of Medusa heads. The best time to propagate the Crested Green Coral succulent is during the summer.

Be Wary of the Crested Medusa Head

Just like the Greek legend of Medusa, this succulent comes with a word of caution. The leaves of the Crested Green Coral succulent produce a milky sap that can be poisonous. The sap has been known to cause adverse reactions when it comes into contact with your skin or eyes. Plant owners with curious pets should be particularly careful as this succulent can be toxic if ingested. The plant rarely needs pruning or maintenance, but one should be cautious and wear gloves and goggles when handling this succulent.


The Crested Green Coral Succulent is an intimidating plant and certainly not for the faint-hearted. It does not ask for much, just sunlight and a drink of water once a week. If left unattended for long periods, it tends to grow out of its pot and spread around the room. Other than that, this is one succulent every green thumb must see at least once in their lifetime.

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