I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but my interest in oddities from the Euphorbiaceae family seems to be growing. To be fair, it is an attractive family of plants with incredible diversity. Euphorbias can be succulents, trees, bushes, or herbaceous plants. From your seasonal poinsettias to colourful and spiny crown of thorns, and a few thousand utterly wacked out, alien-like plants in between, it’s a family that constantly takes me by surprise.
Fortunately, I have a friend who shares this interest. Nothing makes an obsession take hold more tightly like a friend to share it with, and together we are growing this mutual interest and our plant collections.
Yesterday, she stopped by with two strange and wonderful botanical gifts, the first of which is the plant you see here, Madagascar Jewel (Euphorbia leuconeura). And what a crazy plant this is! What caught my eye immediately is the white veining in the leaves. Uli says it appears in the new growth but fades with age. My seedling may be small now, but the cutting was made from her own plant that is now as big as a small tree! Oh dear.
The second thing that stood out is the bulbous growth in the centre. The flowers and seeds form there, but Uli says that they are almost indistinguishable from the plant and I probably won’t notice that flowering has occurred until I find the seedlings popping up in nearby pots. This is because the seedpods burst and shoot the seeds from the plant!
As you may know, most Euphorbia’s produce a sap or latex that is at times caustic, poisonous, or a skin irritant. In this case, the sap is not only toxic, but may cause tumorous growth! Needless to say I have put the plant where there is no chance that Molly (my dog) can get to it, and I’ll be handling it with gloves and safety glasses installed should I ever need to cut it back!