Monday, July 16, 2007

The African Milk Barrel

The Euphorbia horrida, or African Milk Barrel, is a commonly found South African Euphorb that has an unusual color. In the summer, this plant produces tiny green and yellow cyathia. The “spines” with the little balls on the end in the photo are not actually spines, but the dried stalks and cyathia from its earlier flowering. It is a hardy plant that needs little care, other than an occasional watering.

Don’t you think this is a good match for plant and pot? The pot seems to reflect the color of the plant quite nicely and the worn places on the pot have the same color value of the “spines.”

One might think that this plant is “horrid” in some way because of the name. Horrida actually means prickly, but as with all in the Euphorbia genus, it has a milky, corrosive sap that really can be quite horrid if you get it in your mouth or eyes.

There are several Latin-based botanical names that conjure up images for me of nastiness or unpleasantness. Horrida is one, another, vulgaris, which doesn’t mean vulgar, it means common. Another is pusilla, meaning insignificant. Then, there’s foetidissima, which does have a meaning that rather matches the word. It means very fetid, stinking, or evil smelling.

What’s in a name. That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
~ Shakesphere

1 comment:

Yolanda Elizabet said...

What a lovely combination of plant and pot. The colourscheme works really well.

The No Rain thingy is very amusing to me as we are practically drowing in the stuff over here in the Netherlands these last few weeks. I'm considering teaching my plants how to swim. ;-)