Euphorbia flanaganii Description: Euphorbia flanaganii is a low, spineless, many-branched, succulent to 5 cm tall and 30 cm wide. It is commonly known as Medusa plant, because its prostrate, snake like arms resemble locks of hairs. The central stem merges into roots forming an tuberous body (often called a caudex) with branches radiating from it. If you look down into a large specimen you’ll see what looks like a sun flower; it’s another example of a Fibonacci spiral. A properly grown plant is a joy, especially when it is in flower, for then each snaky finger is covered with fragrant yellow flowers and the cluster is exquisite. The whole plant produce a caustic milky sap that can cause skin rash, itching and general discomfort.
Euphorbia flanaganii Similar species: This is one of the caudex-forming Euphorbias, similar to Euphorbia woodii, Euphorbia pugniformis, Euphorbia esculenta and Euphorbia caput-medusae.
Central stem: Flattened or spherical slightly depressed at crown, 3 to 5 cm high, and to 5 cm across, continued below ground as a large fleshy subcylindrical or cylindrical-conical, root-stock.
Radial branches: Up to 3.7 cm long, but often longer in cultivation, especially if not grown in full sun, spreading-erect, 6 mm in diameter or more, tuberculate, radiating from the central tuberculate growing point.
Leaves: Linear, to 10 x 1 mm, deciduous.
Flowers: Solitary, restricted to the apical area of inner (younger) radial branches. Peduncles 4 mm long with 2 -3 bracts to 3 mm long. Cyathium 6 mm in diameter. Nectar-glands 4 – 5, oblong, margin toothed, yellow, separate. Ovary sessile, hairy.
Cultivation and Propagation: Euphorbia flanaganii is one of the most common and easily grown of the medusoids.
Growth rate: This is a relatively fast growing species, offsets readily, and can rapidly fill a large bowl with Medusoid plants.
Exposure: It like a sunny position, but 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.
Soil: It does best in a mineral soil, but is tolerant of a wide range of soil types. Good drainage is essential.
Watering: Water sparingly during the summer months and keep quite dry in winter.
Propagation: Seeds cuttings.
Warning: As with all other Euphorbias, when a plant gets damaged it exudes a thick white milky sap known as latex. This latex is poisonous and may irritate skin, so pay extreme attention not to get any in your eyes or mouth. Cultivated plants must be handled carefully.