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Products > Euphorbia caput-medusae
Euphorbia caput-medusae - Medusa's Head

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurges)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Height: <1 foot
Width: 2-3 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Euphorbia caput-medusae (Medusa's Head) - This unique South African native succulent has a central tap-rooted caudex to 8 inches wide from which emerge numerous snake-like gray-green bumpy-textured branches to 3+ feet long with a knobbed terminal end where small deciduous leaves are produced. White flowers bloom on short stalks rising from the ends of young branches in the spring and summer. It can reach about a foot high with a 3 foot spread. It prefers full coastal sun to light shade in a well-drained soil. Irrigate little to occasionally - it is drought tolerant. It is hardy to about 23 degrees F. Long trailing branches can get bleached out in summer in hot locations and the plant can be rejuvenated every few years by cutting back. Tolerates near-beach conditions and is great for a low groundcover on slopes in the succulent garden and also makes a very interesting container plant. This plant comes from Namaqualand and the southwestern Cape of South Africa, where it grows on sandy and stony slopes. It was first introduced into Europe at the Botanic Garden in Amsterdam around 1700. The name 'caput-medusae' meaning "head of Medusa" was fittingly coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 to in reference to the Greek mythological daughter of sea god Phorcys who had serpents for hair.  The information on this page is based on our research conducted in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Euphorbia caput-medusae.