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  Euphorbia tithymaloides ssp. smallii 'Variegatus' L., (Millspaugh) Dressler
  Family Name : Euphorbiaceae

  Synonyms : Pedilanthus tithymaloides ssp. smallii 'Variegatus'

  Common Names : Variegated Zigzag Plant, Variegated Devil's Backbone

  Chinese Name : 斑叶红雀珊瑚

Variegated Zigzag Plant,Variegated Devil's Backbone
  • Record Info
    • Featured in '1001 Garden Plants in Singapore' Book (2ed) :
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Shrub (Herbaceous; Creeper)
      Lifespan (in Singapore) :
      Mode of Nutrition :
      Plant Shape :
      Maximum Height :
      2 m
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      Growth Form: A peculiar, robust, small to medium-sized, moderately fast-growing, somewhat erect shrub that possesses distinctive, strong, stout, succulent zig-zag stems and brightly variegated foliage with a beautiful mix of cream to pale yellow, green to slight tinge of pink and red.
      Foliage: Leaves simple, alternate, waxy, lanceolate (lance head-shaped), with acuminate (tapering to a point) tips and sessile (attached directly at the base; not having a stalk) bases, glabrous, about 4 to 7 cm long and 3 to 4 cm wide, with undulated to entire margins, cream to pale yellow, green to flushed pink or red.
      [Others]: Stem: Stems somewhat erect to spreading, stout, succulent, darker green (usually serve as the photosynthetic organ in the absence of deciduous leaves), zig-zag growing, glabrous (smooth; not rough or hairy), often having a raised, nearly ledge-like swellings subtending its foliage. Flower: Flowers a cyathium (cup-shaped inflorescence surrounded with a collection of bracts), vary from pink to red. Fruit: Fruits sulcate (grooved or furrowed), 0.5 to 0.6 cm in diameter; seeds subglobose (not entirely spherical), grey-brown, about 0.45 cm long and 0.3 cm wide.
      Cultivation :
      Adaptable to a wide range of light conditions, it prefers semi-shade condition with a few good hours of direct sun and the rest of the day with filtered light. Colours on foliage seem to be light dependent, with strong, direct light to generate more suffused pink or red on the foliage. Plant is drought tolerant and defoliation can occur should there be too much a water stress. Prune back occasionally to get a bushier plant. Propagate by cuttings. Caution: Roots, stems and leaves of plant contain toxic juice. Handle with extra care and wear gloves if need be.
      Etymology :
      > The genus epithet ‘Euphorbia’ is derived from 'Euphorbus', the Greek physician to Juba II, King of Mauretania. Juba II was treated by a plant (probably the Resin Spurge, Euphorbia resinifera) with powerful medicinal properties, of which he named after his Greek physician 'Euphorbus'. The species epithet ‘tithymaloides’ is derived from the ancient name used by Pliny the Elder to describe a ‘Euphorbia’, ‘Tithymalus’, which resembles the plant. The subspeices epithet ‘smallii' is named after Dr. John Kunkel Small, 20th century American explorer and botanist, who probably collected or described this plant.
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
      [Others]: Based on folklore, leaves are brewed into tea to treat asthma, persistent coughing and mouth ulcers. Sap has been tradtionally used to treat callouses, ear ache, insect stings, ringworm, skin cancer, toothache, umbilical hernias, and warts, though none has been scientifically proven as effective.
  • Landscaping Features
    • Desirable Plant Features :
      Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Stems
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils, Shallow Media (8 -10cm)
      Landscape Uses :
      General, Green Roof, Flowerbed / Border, Container Planting
      Thematic Landscaping :
      Golden Garden, Rockery / Desert Garden
      Usage Hazards / Cons :
      Irritant - Sap
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun
      Water Preference :
      Little Water
      Maintenance Requirements :
      Propagation Method :
      Stem Cutting
  • Foliar
    • Mature Foliage Colour(s) :
      Green, Pink, Red, Yellow / Golden
      Mature Foliage Texture(s) :
      Smooth, Glossy / Shiny, Thick
      Foliar Type :
      Simple / Unifoliate
      Foliar Venation :
      Pinnate / Net
      Foliar Margin :
      Entire - Wavy / Undulate
      Leaf Area Index (LAI) * for Green Plot Ratio :
      4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)
  • Non-Foliar & Storage
    • Stem Type & Modification :
      Root Type :
      Underground (Fibrous Root)
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower & Plant Sexuality :
      Bisexual Flowers
      Flower Colour(s) :
      Flowering Period :
      Flowering Habit :
The information given on this website has been compiled from reference works on medicinal plants and/or pron only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Reliance on this information is strictly at your own risk. You should always consult your physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.

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