Euphorbia Caput-Medusae (You-phor-Bi-ya Ca-put me-Dus-Sa) is an exotic-looking plant from the family Euphorbiaceae and Euphorbia plant (Spurge) genus.
Its distinctive foliage and interesting appearance has earned this species several common names:
- Medusa’s head plant (Euphorbia flanaganii goes by the name too)
- Medusa Plant
- Euphorbia medusa
- Medusa succulent
The name is a clear reference to the famous character from Greek mythology, Medusa. Medusa is known to have hair made of living serpents.
It is believed that whoever dared to look into her eyes turned into stone!
Medusa’s head has a befitting name with long, snake-like stems rising from a center caudex.
Native to South Africa, this distinctive-looking succulent comes from the Cape Town area. There it grows in sandy or rocky terrain on the coast.
Medusa’s head Euphorbia became popular in the Netherlands around the 1700s.
In 1753, Carl Linnaeus recorded the Caput-Medusae euphorbia in his book, Species Plantarum.
Medusa’s Head Care
Size & Growth
Medusa’s head euphorbias can grow up to be 1′ – 2′ feet tall. At the center, it has a deep-rooted caudex almost 8” inches in diameter.
Despite its height, the plant is compact and does not take a lot of room.
But, due to the unusual appearance of the Medusa’s head, it is advisable not to crowd the medusa with other plants.
As the head euphorbia grows, new leaves sprout atop a brown stem that resembles a trunk. The plant supports many branches that are often half buried in the ground.
Flowering and Fragrance
The medusa succulent is a flowering species that produces flowers during the spring.
The flowers are small with a bright sulfur-yellow color.
These flowers grow in clusters on top of the plant and have a sweet fragrance. However, the fragrance is light and only detectable when the plant fully blooms.
Light & Temperature
The Medusa’s head enjoys warmth and light. However, despite requiring loads of light and warmth, these plants cannot withstand the sun burning through the glass.
Therefore, keeping these plants away from the window in a shady spot that is adequately warm and receives a lot of light is advisable.
Temperature is another important factor. During the summer, a temperature of about 70° degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for Medusa’s head.
On the other hand, during the colder months of the year, the temperature must be maintained at about 60° degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that the plant remains comfortable and healthy.
Watering and Feeding
Caput-Medusae euphorbia does not require much water to thrive and flourish. Too much water can end up harming the plant.
Water the Medusa’s head once a month during the summer growing season to encourage growth.
As the temperature drops, reduce watering as these plants need almost no water during the winter.
These plants do not require much water. However, it does not automatically mean they don’t need feeding.
To ensure good health and promote growth, feed Medusa’s head several times with liquid food during the warmer months.
Soil & Transplanting
These plants thrive and flourish best in a well-drained potting mix. Make sure the potting mix does not stay excessively moist. Also, excess water must always be drained away to prevent root rot.
Generally, repotting is not necessary for a long time as Medusa’s Head Euphorbia grows very slowly. However, if the plant overgrows the pot, repot as needed.
Grooming and Maintenance
Medusa’s head is exceedingly self-sufficient and does not require additional grooming. This makes it one of the easiest succulents plants in the Euphorbia genus to grow and care for.
How To Propagate Medusa’s Head Succulent
The head Euphorbia is as easy to propagate as they are to look after. Dividing the plant is the best and easiest way to propagate Medusa’s head.
- Cut off a side shoot
- Place in a pot or propagation tray filled with well-drained soil
- The plant will begin to root in a few days
Medusa’s Head Euphorbia Pests and Diseases
Medusa’s head is susceptible to mealy bug attacks. These pests gather at the base of the serpent-like stems to form cotton-like clusters.
The best way to deal with this situation is to dab a piece of cotton in alcohol and dab it on the affected areas.
Long leggy growth is another common problem encountered by Medusa’s head succulent. When this happens, know that the plant is receiving insufficient light.
Move it to a spot that receives a lot of natural light to restore it to health.
The plant can fall prey to infections causing the side shoots to curl up and become deformed.
Although these plants are rarely affected by infections, when they do, not much can be done to save the plant.
Suggested Uses For Medusa’s Head Euphorbia
With proper care, the Medusa head plant can live for years. Its unusual appearance makes this plant a collector’s dream. You’ll find them at a garden center specializing in cactus and succulents.
Most people grow it as a houseplant to increase the overall aesthetic appeal of their place. While it can look good on its own, it can do equally well among other succulents and cactus plants.