Tuesday, March 14, 2017

GOODNESS GRACIOUS GREAT STICKS ON FIRE

Sticks on Fire, Euphorbia tirucalli, is a native of South Africa, which can be grown in the ground in a frost free climate or in a pot in colder regions. It is easy to see how it came by its common name as during colder times the year its stems turn red. This is not by accident.


The tiny leaves open for such a short period of time that the plant relies upon chlorophyll in the stems for photosynthesis. The new young stems are pale yellow and it take two seasons for chlorophyll to develop. During this time the new growth depends upon the chlorophyll in the older stems. Without this chlorophyll which would normally reflect green, the stems reflect several colors ranging from yellow though salmon to red. This is particularly noticeable in the winter months.


Here they are seen brightening up the winter garden in Phoenix, Arizona.


This is one I have in a pot. It spent the summer in a more shaded part of the garden which is probably why it is not as fiery as the ones I saw in Arizona. This year it will experience the full blast of the Texas summer sun. These second year stems will quickly turn green and new growth will be pale yellow.


Because the plant belongs to the Euphorbia family it produces that milky sap which can cause a severe skin irritation. It is best to wear gloves and glasses when dealing with the plant. It is best placed where it will not come into contact with passers by. The plant grows quickly from cuttings and is about as carefree as you can get if protected from winter frosts.

7 comments:

  1. Gorgeous! Love that color! It reminds me of coral under the sea, with its unusual red stem structure.

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  2. I am always jealous of the huge (tree sized) plants I see in AZ and CA. My poor little containerized plants pale in comparison. BTW Amy Meyers who blogs here:
    https://www.smallsunnygarden.com/ mentioned seeing one of these pruned into a rectangle. Can you imagine?!?

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  3. I love Sticks on Fire and have them scattered about in various parts of my garden. All but one of my plants were started from cuttings and most are still relatively small but I've seen clumps in other places well over 6 feet tall and nearly as wide!

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  4. I don’t have any, but after seeing how big and beautiful they get I wish I did!

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  5. It has a bit of a coral-reef look going on.

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  6. These are so cool! I have one but it doesn't get red/orange. Maybe needs more sun?

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  7. It's amazing how so many plants get color in the winter, ones that still keep foliage or stems. I only hope your's doesn't get too big to move in-out with all that Texas moisture!

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