This plant is one of the many medusoid species of Euphorbias from South Africa.
They're called "medusoid" because of a supposed resemblance to Medusa and her hair of snakes, from Greek mythology.
Growth Habit: Like all of the other medusoid Euphorbias, this species has a single squat, central stem, with branches that grow outwards and (usually) curve upwards. In habitat, the stems of this species are very short (~3 cm long), but much longer in cultivation.
Scientific name: Euphorbia gorgonis A. Berger.
Etymology: Generic name from Euphorbus, a first-century A.D. Greek physician. Specific (species) name from the Gorgons, sisters of Medusa.
Taxonomy: Described as Euphorbia gorgonis by Alvin Berger in 1910. This is one of the few Euphorbia species that hasn't been re-described or re-classified, so it's easy
Distribution: Eastern Cape of Southern Africa.
Cultivation: The medusoid Euphorbias, including E. gorgonis, have a reputation as being difficult to grow. That's not entirely in keeping with my experience. If you give them as much sun as possible during the summer, then keep them completely dry during the winter, they don't seem that difficult...and certainly easier than some of the shrubby species This particular clone stays in flower from early Spring to early Winter.
Conservation Status: CITES Appendix II - "Trade controlled to avoid use incompatable with species survival"
Similar species: E. pugniformis, E. caput-medusae, E. flanaganii, E. woodii, E. gatbergensis, E. franksiae, E. ernestii.
A pretty unusual pic of Euphorbia gorgonis in habitat:
A more in-depth look at individual succulent species, a new one is added each week.
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