Thorn of Christ: characteristics

Thorn of Christ: characteristics

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Thorn of Christ is the name of a semi-succulent plant that many mistake for a cactus. It belongs to the Euphorbia genus which includes very different plants. Some have a shrubby habit, others are succulent, others still have thorns similar to columnar cacti or globose cactus. This genus is so vast that it can be easily defined as widespread practically everywhere or almost everywhere: in Africa, Asia and America.

Let's get to know specifically the Thorn of Christ, technically known by the scientific name of "Euphorbia milii" to discover its characteristics and even if it is easy or not to grow them in our garden or on our balcony.

Thorn of Christ: characteristics

Originally fromSouthern Africa, this plant has the spontaneous nature of a fairly large shrub, composed of succulent stems and a woody or semi-woody consistency at the base. It is a semi-succulent plant so on one side it has very fleshy stems, on the other side it has non-succulent leaves while its flowers are quite characteristic and we find them in all species of euphorbia: they are called cyathia.

Let's take a closer look at these components one by one. Starting from the stems, in the Thorn of Christ they are rich in ramifications but erect and studded with numerous large thorns. When this plant grows and develops in nature, such sharp thorns are very useful for attaching itself to the stem of other trees, which is necessary especially when it reaches a certain height and erect stem it is no longer strong enough to stand alone. The maximum resistance limit is just under one meter.

In the apical part of the branches and near the shoots there are covered with leaves, fleshy, oval and dark green in color but covered with a kind of very sparse hair that makes them more opaque and almost velvety. The state of the leaves makes us understand the health of the plant. If we are watering it too little, they tend to fall while if we are watering ours correctly Thorn of Christ, then we will see one leaf sprout after another.

Starting in late spring, small flowers appear at the apex of the branches and show off a beautiful yellow color with red bracts. Yellow and red however, they are not the only colors that we can find on this plant which, thanks to the numerous hybrids, can also have white and pink flowers. In the garden or on the balcony the flowers follow the seasons but can appear at any time if the plant is grown indoors.

Thorn of Christ: name

Before discovering how to grow this plant, let's reveal why this name is certainly not obvious and particularly suitable for a plant. There is a legend that explains everything. In fact, it is said that this Euphorbia was used to make the crown of thorns to be placed on the head of Jesus Christ. It is not very credible as a story, more than anything else because the first Euphorbia Milii to arrive in Europe came from Madagascar, and it was already 1800, before we cannot be sure that it was present in other areas. Nobody can deny a priori but it would certainly be strange given that today there are no specimens of this species in the Middle East.

It should be noted that when it comes to Thorn of Christ we do not mean the whole genus of Euphorbia but only Euphorbia milli which is a single species. In fact, in the same category we find succulent plants totally different from each other, over two thousand. They have the flower and a whitish and stinging latex in common within all plants of the genus. Some are succulent like our Milii but not all. For example, she has very different leaves from the classic ones of succulents

Thorn of Christ: to cultivate

Easy to grow both indoors and out in the garden or in general outdoors, this succulent seed is easy to grow and can give us a lot of satisfaction if we know the tricks to treat it better. Even if it has a succulent stem it is not very resistant to drought and heat if extreme. It can grow in hot and dry summer climates but certainly likes to be watered regularly.

The best soil for the Thorn of Christ it is the well-drained, soft and unclogged one, usually a mixture of universal soil is used, with perlite or pumice stone that helps to circulate the air while to maintain a good level of humidity the presence of leaves or pieces of bark is important . It is also necessary to add a little slow release fertilizer poor in nitrogen. Placed in a not too large container, this plant requires regular watering, otherwise Euphorbia it will begin to shed its foliage and produce fewer flowers.

When placing this plant indoors, let's look for a location where it receives a lot of sunlight, even direct, for a few hours every day, without overdoing it because it could otherwise dry out. Exposure to too cold currents which can cause leaves to fall and stop flowering in the bud.

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