Madagascar Jewel

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 than when you have 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!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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16 thoughts on “Madagascar Jewel

  1. I’m so glad you share my love of Euphorbia leuconeura! They are a great mix of spines that don’t hurt and easy maintenance :-)

  2. This family has the most interesting varieties of plant around. I have been trying to grow different kinds for many years from seed sourced from all over the world. Love the article and cheers for a really interesting and informative blog :)

    • Thank you! It pleases me to know that there are people who share an interest in the wackier and more fanciful plants that I am into.

  3. Let’s face it, Madagasgar is a treasure trove of the wacky and the fanciful of the plant world.
    This is a great looking one. I must have it!

  4. I do love me some plants that are deemed as dangerous! Mwahahahaa…
    Gayla, I also recently followed you on Instagram [I'm 'karnizarchada'] – and I’m just LOVING your posts!
    I’ve picked up knitting as a new hobby and eventually I want to start doing embroidery, so seeing you post all of the interesting textiles and floss… it’s inspiring.
    Love it, love love LOVE! ?

    • That’s great! I have pretty much given up on knitting. I tried for years but found that while I really enjoy spinning wool, I don’t really care for knitting itself. I was never able to get into the flow of it.

      I find embroidery is better suited to me… it’s more open-ended. You can do anything. While people try to be perfect about it, I don’t and find it is very open to rule-breaking. And the materials you can incorporate into it are limitless. It’s really fulfilling.

  5. I enjoy your blog. I am a challenged gardener, not by lack of space but because of the miserable caliche sand that makes up my little walled courtyard. I have amassed quite a collection of pots and containers (including a knee-high pair of rubber boots that are a misery to wear but will be cute plant holders. When I find the money and energy to buy several bags of soil and haul it into the courtyard (only about a quarter of a block, but a looong way when you’re hauling 40 lbs of soil). I will continue reading and hope for tips I can use in this hostile environment.

  6. I inherited one of those from a former flatmate. Years ago I used to keep it on the windowsill in the kitchen, not realizing that it was “spitting” its seeds onto a crowded shelf that was at least 1m higher up. My boyfriend eventually discovered them, thinking we had a mice problem :)…

  7. My boyfriend and I just picked up 2 seedlings from a really nice lady here in Wasilla. Her plant is gorgeous! It’s about 36in tall with lots of “babies” in the bottom of the pot. We are excited to watch our new plant additions grow. Thanks for the helpful info! Break a thumb haha ( yea, that was bad…)

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