Finally, some new growth has begun at the tips of the stems of my tiny four-inch Euphorbia aeruginosa (minor). Since nothing happened last year, and we're already two months into summer now, I was starting to worry that my watering schedule had somehow contributed to its lack of growth. I kept it dry all winter, a necessity for this South African summer growing succulent, but then I thought perhaps I had stunted it by withholding water too long. Seeing the new growth is a relief, because I really like this plant.
The Euphorbia genus contains over 2000 species, and many that I've seen are nothing to look at, but I think this species is the most attractive with its angled blue-green stems and maroon hued spines. In the spring it produces yellow cyathia (an inflorescence consisting of a cuplike cluster of modified leaves enclosing a female flower and several male flowers) that linger for weeks.
The E. aeruginosa can be found in three varieties--minor, major, and nova. The minor is smaller and has thinner stems, the major can grow to about 12 inches, and the nova has thicker stems and smaller spines. I've tried to find a large specimen to place in the garden, but I've only found the E. aeruginosa in four-inch pots. It does well in Phoenix in light shade, and it can take some frost. I think the E aeruginosa would look especially nice planted in a grouping of three--if I could just find it somewhere.
The common name for E aeruginosa is Miniature Saguaro, but that's a real stretch. There are no similarities whatsoever. It makes me wonder how the various common names of plants came into existence, especially when they are so far off base.