This melding of two succulent varieties into one unusual cactus-like plant is striking to see. Depending on the top crest, it may have a fan of white, red, green, yellow, or purple ruffled succulent growth on top of what looks like a medium-green “stem”.
But this cactus isn’t actually a cactus at all, and if treated like one it can develop problems. Let’s figure out what this unusual Frankenstein’s Cactus-That-Isn’t-Really-A-Cactus needs to survive and thrive! With its origins in Africa, the Euphorbia genus is a surprisingly large family of over 2000 succulent plants. Commonly referred to as “spurges”, they’re known for their poisonous sap, called latex, which was once traditionally used as a purgative.But the coral cactus is actually two different types of Euphorbias at the same time, which makes it a bit more complex.The base is usually Euphorbia neriifolia, a plant which looks cactus-like except for its wide, oval leaves. While occasionally other euphorbia species are used, this is by and large the most common due to its straight-growing tendency.But grafted to the top will be a crest from a different plant. This is Euphorbia lactea, often the ‘Cristata’ variety, which has rippled large leaves that form a fan-like shape.Occasionally called the candelabra plant, the crested candelabra plant, crested euphorbia, or crested elkhorn, it resembles an unusual coral once grafted together. The edges of the ruffled and crinkled leaves may be purple, green, white, yellow, or red in hue, mounted on a very straight stem.
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