Do you know that the Desert Cactus plant is actually not a cactus? Euphorbia ammak is an attractive tree-like Euphorbia, native to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It shows a close resemblance with cacti. However, it belongs to a totally different family.
This massive plant grows in the form of a long, tough, upright stem of dark-green color. After reaching a length of about 3 feet, the plant starts forming arms or branches. Moreover, the edges are covered with brown, thick, and paired thorns. This thorny stem grows a crown at the top, making it nothing lesser than a king of its family. The natural habitat of the Ammak is rocky areas, hillsides, and thorny bushes. Howbeit, it is well-adapted to both indoor and outdoor environments.
Let us learn more about the tough, low-maintenance Ammak Euphorbia plant along with its care and propagation.
Euphorbia Ammak Classification
Species: E. ammak
This is the fifth largest family of flowering plants, comprising of about 75000 species. The majority of these are native to indo-Malayan tropic regions and America. While, some small numbers of species belong to Africa and non-tropic regions like Middle-East, South Africa, and Southern America as well. The Euphorbias are a diverse family with different growth habits including herbs, shrubs, trees, and succulents.
It is important to mention here that the names Eurphobia and spurge (the botanical name of the genus) are sometimes used for this family as well.
This is one of the largest genera of flowering plants containing around 2000 species. Eurphobias can be perennial, annual, or biannual plants. Additionally, they include diversity like small-sized annual plants, woody shrubs, and huge trees with long life spans. The attractive appearance and tolerance for drought and heat are the main features of this genus. Moreover, all of these plants have an inner poisonous milky latex-like sap and uniquely beautiful flowers.
The Euphorbias are widely cultivated and commonly sold in commercial outlets for their ornamental appearance. Moreover, their inner sap is popularly used as a purgative since ancient times, giving the common name spurge (derived from ancient wood spurge, meaning ‘to purge’) to the genus.
These plants show close resemblance in appearance and some other characteristics with the cacti. Thus they are often mistakenly confused with the popular cacti. However, there are some prominent features that differentiate the two genera. These features include tiny nondescript flowers, the milky latex, and thorns of the Euphorbias. On the other hand, the cacti have well-developed prominent flowers, no inner latex, and spines in replacement of the euphorbian thorns.
Euphorbia Ammak Common Name
- Desert Cactus.
- Ammak Cactus.
- African Candelabra.
- Candelabra Spurge.
Euphorbia Ammak Plant Features
Height and Structure
- Surprisingly, a mature plant can get about 10 meters tall and 5 to 8 inches wide.
- However, in indoor potted growth, the average height is around 5 feet.
- The stem is strong, erect, and stout. The branching starts after the stem reaches a minimal length of about 30 inches.
- The ribs of the plant are thick, deep-green with situate teeth.
- The edges of the stem and branches have thick, paired thorns in brown color. They usually grow at a distance of 1 inch.
- In the rainy days of summer, the simple lanceolate leaves grow on the upper edge of the branches. These leaves are large and green in size.
- A common leaf on a mature shoot is around 45mm in length and 9mm in width.
- Tiny cream-yellow to pale green flowers grow above the paired spines.
- These flowers are fleshy and around 1 cm in size.
- The flowers are unisexual and both genders are present on the same plant.
- You will be surprised to see tiny green fruit on your E. ammak.
- It is about 6 mm in size and has 2 to 3 locules.
The latex of the plant is poisonous in nature. Moreover, the thorns are dangerous for kids and pets. Thus, make sure you keep these plants in a suitable place.
These plants are moderately fast growers.
The plant doesn’t show prominent growth in winter. Thus, don’t get worried. It will wake up and start growing healthy, as soon as the spring arrives.
Euphorbia Ammak For Sale
You can get the thorny plant at your doorstep! Amazon is there to help you.
Euphorbia Ammak Variegata
The Candelabra Spurge plant has a popular variegated form in the USA. The main differences between the Variegated Euphorbia ammak and the original plant are;
- The prominent marbled variegated patterns in off-white and light blue-green color.
- Lighter color and smaller size of the leaves of the variegated plant.
All other body features and characteristics of this variegated E.ammak plant are similar to the original one.
Euphorbia Ammak Care
The water requirement of this desert dweller is minimal. Howbeit, they can’t tolerate longer drought periods. For your better understanding, we are sharing an estimated schedule. In summer, water the plant sparingly weekly or once every two weeks. However, once a month will be enough to satisfy the plant throughout the other months.
Be careful and avoid overwatering strictly. As the roots of the desert dweller can not tolerate extra water.
The natural adaptation of these plants is towards intense direct sunlight. However, they can adjust well with bright indirect light as well. Thus, if you are planning to place an Ammak plant indoors, just carry on and place them in a well-lit window or lobby.
These plants have tolerance for higher temperatures. Your desert cactus can even bear the warm days above 35 °C. The optimum temperature range is between 15 to 35 °C. However, they are not frosted hardy. The mature plants can tolerate a minimum temperature of -4 °C, but the growth gets slow or stops for the period.
Soil And Location Requirement
They usually love well-draining sandy soils. The best option is an airy mixture consisting of non-organic material such as pumice, clay, grit with a minute proportion of peat or leaf-mould. The plant is not resistant to strong drift and air. The columns may smash into each other. Consequently, the thorns may cause permanent scarring. Thus, if you are planting it outdoor, choose a proper place where stronger winds can’t harm the plant.
As you know, they belong to the hot and dry regions; humidity is not their cup of tea. They will prefer low humidity areas. However, don’t worry if the environment is humid, your tough guy can handle it easily.
The additional nutritional will be nice, especially if you are planting it in a container or poor soil. Use organic matter or suitable store-bought fertilizer in the base of the stem. It is recommendable to use half of the stated dose once a month in spring and summer. While stop fertilizing as soon the days get colder in the fall.
The plant has the tendency to grow extraordinarily tall with many arms extending out. This can cause a burden on the roots and the base. Thus, consider pruning and remove a few arms from the lower sides.
Frequent repotting is not required for these plants unless the plant looks prominently big. In the ground, the well-established plant becomes a ‘good boy’. It remains happy in the growing place without needing any change for years.
However, if your potted Euphorbia looking prominently bigger and doesn’t stand straight in the pot, it’s time to repot. In case you want to skip the effort, simply prune the thorny baby and it will be good to go in the same pot.
How to Repot the Desert Cactus
Just loosen the soil around the base and take the plant out gently and carefully. Now, just shake the base mildly to dust-off any old soil on the roots. Finally, plant the pot in the new place or the centre of the pot add fill it with the fresh soil. If you are electing a pot, make sure its diameter is about 2 to 3 inches larger than the previous one.
Plant the base well enough to cover the roots in the soil and pat to firm the soil around. Initially, it would be better if you use some totem or a stake to support the plant body. After about a month, the plant will become strong and adapt to the new place.
The plant belongs to the USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b 9(from – 3.9 C to 10 C).
Euphorbia Ammak Propagation
The possible methods to propagate the Ammak Cactus are;
- Using seeds.
- Using stem-cuttings.
The seeds usually take a longer time to propagate. Thus, it is better to propagate by the stem-cuttings.
Propagation by Stem-cuttings
The ideal season for this is late spring and summer.
- Cut 4 to 7 inches of the stem using a sharp knife. Cut from the place where the arm or the branch begins growing out. Wash it with cold water.
- Now let it sit in some suitable place(out of reach for kids and pets) for about 2 weeks. This will dry the stem out.
- Now, plant the cutting in the desired place. The soil or the growing medium should be dry, well-draining, and loose.
- If you are growing in the ground, select a place with good sunlight. In case of a container, just place it at some warm and well-lit place.
- We suggest not moving the plant for at least the initial six weeks. This will give some time to the delicate roots to get settled. Shoot development will be seen after a month.
Word of Caution
Be aware folks! The white sap that comes out of the plant on cutting is Toxic! It can irritate your eyes and mucous membranes.
- Thus, it is better to cover your arms and body properly.
- Use protective eye-ware and gloves.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after you are done with the process.
Let us have a look at an estimated growth pattern. Hopefully, this will give help you get an idea about the growth process.
Day 1 to Day 30: Just keep the plant in bright light and water mildly once a week. Using a spray bottle is better at this to avoid drenching the soil completely.
Day 30 to Day 90: You will observe the shoot development after the first month. Watering frequency remains the same.
Day 90 Onwards: The baby plant will be reasonably settled in the soil by this time. Instead of spraying, you can now water properly. Time to enjoy the new Ammak Plant!
Euphorbia Ammak Problems
People usually ask us about the problems they face with their plants. Let us have a look at the common issues;
Brown patches along the plant body are a possible symptom of sunburn. This could be due to overexposure or abrupt introduction to the fierce sun. The plant usually develops a natural tolerance for this burning. So, you don’t need to do anything specifically. However, if you see the scars are increasing, consider using a green tent coverage for the outdoor dweller. In case of indoor growth, place the plant in some less-lit space.
Soggy Brown Spots
If you see soft or mushy brown spots on the plant, reduce the watering.
If the mushiness is increasing, this needs your attention. You need to check the roots of the plant. Very gently, remove the soil from the base until you see the roots. If they are getting slimy and damaged, you need to repot as soon as possible. Alternatively, if they are normal, just hold the watering for a few days. Let the soil get completely dry out and reduce the watering for the future.
Colorless Powder on The Ribs
If you see white powder on the arms, this is the white mildew fungus. Take professional help or use some anti-fungal plant treatment. It is always better to treat a small affected patch before using it on the whole plant.
The Euphorbia ammak is a popular Euphorbia plant, native to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The thick, dark-green crowned stem grows upright and has brown paired thorns along the edges. Moreover, it forms branches or arms after reaching a height of 3 feet. You can grow it as an ornamental outdoor plant or in a container for some well-lit indoor place. The Euphorbia ammak Care includes well-draining soil and bright direct or indirect sunlight. Be aware and keep your kids and pets away from this toxic thorny plant.