Forms erect club-shaped stems with squarish or hexagonal
tubercles in rows resembling "corn cobs".
Description: E. mammillaris
is a short stemmed dioecious shrublet producing a dense cluster.
Stem: Thick deep green, erect, simple and ribbed, that in
cultivated plants may branch above, 1,5-6 cm in diameter, Mature Height
20-35 cm tall. Usually there are many club-like lateral branches,
starting about 10 cm and arches upward.
Ribs: 7-17, with hexagonal crowded tubercles set in vertical rows
after the manner of an ear of corn and separated by horizontal grooves.
Spines: Occasionally present and scattered, thick, blunt and
whitish, up to 1 cm long. The “spines” are the solitary sterile
Leaves: Small, ephemeral.
Flower: It produces yellow solitary cyathia at the tip of each
stem. Peduncle ± 2 mm long with several bracts up to 3 mm long. Nectar
glands elliptic, separate, yellow-green to purplish.
Blooming season: Late winter to early summer.
Fruits: Obtusely lobed, up to 6 mm in diameter, subsessile.
Seeds: Ovoid, 3x2 mm, smooth.
Euphorbia fimbriata is similar to Euphorbia
mammillaris but has conical stem tubercles.
Scientific name: Euphorbia
In: Sp. Pl.:451 1753
Common English Names include:
Indian Corn Cob
Origin: South Africa (Little Karoo and Southern Cape area)
Habitat: Thorny bush-lands. At some
locations it is very common, often growing together with Euphorbia
Conservation status: Listed in
CITES appendix 2.
Etymology: Named for Euphorbus, Greek physician to
Juba II, King of Mauretania. The species name "mammillaris"
means "having nipples" or "breasts"
Cultivation: It is an easy species to grow that is suited for any
well drained soil in full sun. But young plant are happy growing
indoors, where they can easily reach the ceiling. Give the plant an airy
growing medium which mainly consists of non organic material such us
clay, pumice, lava grit, and only a little peat or leaf-mould. Water
regularly during the active growing season from March to September. No
water should ever be allowed to stand around the roots. Keep almost
completely dry in winter. It is a moderately fast grower, and will
quickly become large landscape masterpieces in just 3-5 years. Only
downside is from strong winds, the columns often smash into each other,
causing permanent scarring... best to plant in such a location where
winds are not a big issue. If plant becomes very red, this is a sign
that the roots have not developed properly. It is a relatively fast
growing and long lived plant and once established, it will be content in
its position and with its soil for years. It can tolerate moderate
shade, and a plant that has been growing in shade should be slowly
hardened off before placing it in full sun as the plant will be severely
scorched if moved too suddenly from shade into sun. Like quite small
pots, repott in very later winter, early spring. Can be pruned for shape
and branching. Frost tender, frost free zones only. Plant Pests: Prone
to mealy bugs and rarely scale.
Propagation: It is
easy to propagate by cuttings in late spring to summer, just take
a cutting of the plant let it dry for 1 or 2 weeks and stuff it in the
ground (preferably dry, loose, extremely well draining soil).
Warning: All Euphorbias contain a white sap that can be
irritating to eyes and mucous membranes. If contact is made with this
white sap, take care to not touch face or eyes before washing hands with
soap and water.
Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and
cultivars of Euphorbia mammillaris.