Euphorbia ammak ‘Variegata’

candelabra spurge
Variegated candelabra spurge from Yemen resembles cactus but marbled skin sets it apart. Wash off milky sap immediately.
Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata'Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata'
height 20–30ft
width 10–15ft
tolerates Drought, Deer , Gophers, Heat, Pots, Rooftops, Wind
This euphorbia from Yemen is from the desert and as such likes to go totally bone dry between waterings, making it very low-maintenance. If you see your euphorbia begin to shrivel or lose firmness, your plant is likely totally dry and should be watered. To get good healthy growth your plant doesn’t want to sit around totally dried out during it’s growing season. Once it is dry water it.

This euphorbia comes from an area with summer rainfall and is actively growing during that time, when it is forgiving of overwatering errors. During winter dormancy it should be kept extra dry and will be intolerant of overwatering.

Remember that if kept in a small pot your plant will want more frequent watering.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Requires Perfect Drainage
fertilizing All Purpose
origin Yemen
13, 16, 17, 21–24

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

Columnar when young, with great age this plant is treelike with a central trunk and many branches in a candelabra form. A large plant that should be given ample space to mature when planted in the garden.
Gophers and deer avoid this plant due to the toxic latex sap. It also irritates people, so avoid it and wash off skin quickly if exposed. Take extra precaution to keep the sap out of your eyes.
Nock off branches early when they are just nubs to prevent branching at a given point, if not desired. Larger branches, or even the central stem can be chopped back in early summer to lower the height of the plant. A long lived scar will remain, but new branches will start where the plant has been cut. These top sections can be rooted by allowing them to sit for two weeks in a bright warm spot and then planted in very sharp drainage. Keept warm while the cuttings are rooting. Avoid toxic sap and wash off immediately if exposed.
You may find your euphorbia develops hard brown scabs that eventually cover the cactus, especially on older growth. This is called corking, and is the natural process of the cactus ‘branch’ becoming a cactus ‘stump’ and getting bark, just like trees do. Corking is totally natural and adds to the beauty of your plant over time.
However, if the brown spots are darker and squishy, this is a sign of rot. Rot needs to be surgically removed, as it will spread and kill the plant. The sooner you catch rot, the more likely you’ll be able to save your plant. There are three possible scenarios here:
For just a little spot of rot, dig back to healthy vibrant tissue and let the plant scab and recover.
For rot that’s circled the column midway up, you’ll need to remove the top, clean the rot from both top and bottom back to healthy vibrant tissue and re-root the top. Do this by letting it scab over for 2-3 weeks and then replanting the top in very fast-draining soil (1/2 pumice or lava rock and 1/2 cactus mix) and place it in a warm bright spot out of direct sun. Rooting hormone is also useful for this, if you have it. Cement or tile floors are great for re-rooting as they transfer that heat to the plant, but you can also use a heat mat set at 72F if you have one. In this scenario you’ll get a new plant from the top, and the bottom will sprout a new head and continue growing. (This is also how you would propagate the plant, usually done in late spring when the plant is actively growing.)
If rot happens at the base, circling the column, you’ll need to propagate the top, but the bottom is done for and should be discarded. Remember when we said that the plant’s latex sap is poisonous? While doing this use gloves and DO NOT get the sap in your eyes, as it is a serious skin and eye irritant.

Special Interest

In the movie ‘The Gods Must be Crazy,‘ a villain hides under a columnar euphorbia, only to be outwitted when his pursuer shoots the plant, pouring down toxic sap all over him. Clearly the screenwriter knew their plants!

These plants are often confused with columnar cactus because, through convergent evolution, they have adapted into a similar form. However, euphorbias are not closely related to cactus. In fact they’re more closely related to the holiday poinsettia. Some notable differences are euphorbia’s latex sap, insignificant flowers, tiny little leaves when in growth, and thorns instead of spines to protect themselves.

More Info

Reliably a good indoor plant as well, and this plant easily transitions from outdoors into a warm sunny room inside.