Monday, March 3, 2008

Euphorbia obesa

At first glance, one may think this is some type of cactus in the Astrophytum genus, but it is actually a succulent in the Euphorbiaceae family. Its scientific name is Euphorbia obesa, but most folks call it the Gingham Golf Ball, Baseball Plant, or Klipnoors. It is endemic to the South African Karoo region, where it is endangered. In cultivation, it is grown from seeds.

The E. obesa is a dioecious succulent. There are male and female plants, identified by the flower. I’m convinced these are male because of the yellow pollen grains in the center of the “bumps” on the surface of the seams. The female plants have tiny stigma that protrude from the flowers. Once pollinated, the female flowers produce fruit that contain a few seeds each.

This fat little plant will become columnar with age, and can eventually get about eight inches high. Some collectors have specimens that are much taller, but that is not common. E. obesa likes morning light, and light shade in the afternoon because they can easily scorch.

Many collectors buy this plant because of its unusual coloring; a dull gray-green with purple hued horizontal stripes, reminiscent of gingham. It is a summer grower and requires moderate water and soil with good drainage, and in winter, it should be kept dry.


GardenJoy4Me said...

Aiyana .. wow !
I have never seen anything quite like these little(big?) cactus "eyeball" plants .. amazing !

WiseAcre said...

The color, texture and what I guess are flower 'thingys' make it an intersting looking plant. At first glance I would have sworn it was 'female' though.

barbara said...

I love these cactus twins. Due to your generous Commons License I should like to use your photograph and write a poem about a pair of twins I know. If I actually get it written - I have a long list of idea seeds - I shall share it with you. Thanks.
(If I have mis-understood your sharing of your photos, please let me know and I apologize!)

No Rain said...

Yes, this is an odd little succulent. The name is appropriate!

LOL--didn't notice until you mentioned it. Still, I stick by my contention that the flowers are male.

Feel free to use the photo. I'd appreciate photo credit.

Tracy said...

Cool, I have never seen cacti like this b4, you have got the world's coolest cacti collection!!

Jon said...

Hi "No Rain"...As I type this we are getting several inches of rain! I find your blog so interesting that may I have your permission to add a link to your site on my blog? I would like my own visitors to see your lovely photos and enjoy the contrast in your climate and your plants with ours here in the damp and humid, sub-tropical Deep South. Best regards, Jon on 3-3-08 at

Shady Gardener said...

What an interesting plant! You seem to have your share of unusual ones. ;-) I enjoy reading about them!

Ginni Dee said...

I love visiting your always have the most interesting photos of your plants!

This one is so cute and I love the name Gingham Golf Ball!!

Julie said...

I have always thought this one was so cool. Still trying to get to Arizona...meeting with a lot of resistance from this a reason not to marry??? LOL

Anonymous said...

Can it be possible that the obesa cahge its sex? The reason is that one of my friend's obesa did. On flowering it seemed to be male, but as time goes by, it turn to be a female. If you want to see the photos pleas vist the following blog. Here it is -

Aiyana said...

Hi Anonymous,
Yes, I've heard of E. obesa changing sex. It happens maybe two percent of the time. However, sometimes the plant is not the sex originally thought, and only appears to change. Sometimes the ones that appear to change sex just haven't completed blooming.

There are documented cases of true sex change. It is rare as I said, but it does happen.