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Euphorbia milii var. splendens

 

Crown of Thorns

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderMalpighialesA broad group encompassing 16,000 species
FamilyEuphorbiaceaeEuphorbia or spurge family
GenusEuphorbiaAn extremely diverse-looking genus of mostly tropical and subtropical succulent plants. For Euphorbus, corpulent Greek physician of Juba II, King of Mauretania. Literally, “euphorbia” means “well-fed”
SpeciesmiliiNamed for Baron Milius, once governor of Réunion, who introduced the species to France
var.splendensLatin for “bright”

About plant names...

The crown of thorns looks more like a rose bush on steroids than a cactus-like euphorbia, but a euphorbia it is. This red-flowering native of Madagascar is not found in the wild in North America. Plants are popular as house plants, with flowers (really modified leaves) that are yellow, gold, and orange, as well as red.

Identification: This climbing shrub grows to 3' (91 cm) tall, spewing densely spine-covered branches in every direction. The randomly curving branches are in search of other plants, which the shrub uses to support itself as it grows. Branches are dark and woody, not the green cactus-like color of many euphorbias. Flowers are usually scarlet red, though yellow, gold and orange varieties exist.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones All euphorbias can cause dermatitis and are poisonous when ingested.

Online References:

Euphorbia milii var. splendens on Perry’s Perennial Pages at the University of Vermont

Euphorbia milii var. splendens on Desert-tropicals.com

Euphorbia milii var. splendens at the University of Connecticut Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Plant Growth Facilities

Euphorbia milii var. splendens on Perry’s Perennial Pages at the University of Vermont

Euphorbia milii var. splendens on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species

Euphorbia milii var. splendens description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Euphorbia milii (Crown of Thorns)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.9 cm)

Euphorbia milii (Crown of Thorns)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Range: Zones 9b-10:

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