Euphorbia Caput-Medusae (You-phor-Bi-ya Ca-put me-Dus-Sa) is an exotic-looking plant that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family and Euphorbia plant (Spurge) genus.
Due to its distinctive foliage and equally interesting appearance, this species has several common names:
- Medusa’s head plant
- Medusa Plant
- Euphorbia medusa
- Medusa succulent
The name is an apparent reference to the all-time famous character from Greek mythology, Medusa. Medusa’s is known to have hair made of living serpents.
It is believed that whoever dared to look into her eyes turned into stone!
With long, snake-like stems rising from a caudex in the center, Euphorbia Caput-Medusae has a befitting name.
Native to South Africa, this distinctive-looking succulent comes from Cape Town area where it grows in sandy or rocky terrain on the coast.
Euphorbia Caput-Medusae became popular in the Netherlands around the 1700s.
In 1753, Carl Linnaeus officially recorded the Caput-Medusae euphorbia in his book, Species Plantarum.
Euphorbia Caput-Medusae Care
Size & Growth
Medusa euphorbias can grow up to be 1′ – 2′ feet tall. At the center, it has a deep-rooted caudex which is almost 8” inches in diameter.
Despite its height, the plant is relatively compact and does not take a lot of room.
However, due to the unusual appearance of the plant, it is advisable not to crowd Euphorbia medusa with other plants.
As the plant grows, new leaves sprout atop a brown stem that resembles a trunk. The plant supports numerous branches that are often half buried in the ground.
Flowering and Fragrance
The medusa succulent is a flowering species which produces flowers during the spring.
The flowers are small in size but have a bright sulfur-yellow color which works to draw focus to them.
These flowers grow in clusters on top of the plant and have a sweet fragrance. However, the fragrance is very light and is only detectable when the plant is in full bloom.
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, it is advisable to keep these plants away from the window, in a shady spot that is adequately warm and receives a lot of light.
Temperature is another important factor. During the summer, the temperature in the 70’s is ideal for Euphorbia Caput-Medusae.
On the other hand, during the colder months of the year, the temperature must be maintained in the 60’s to make sure 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.
During the growing season, which is summer, watering the Medusa’s head once a month is enough 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 Euphorbia Caput-Medusae a couple of times during the warmer months.
Soil & Transplanting
These plants thrive and flourish best in well-drained soil. Make sure the soil does not stay excessively moist. Also, excess water must always be drained away.
Generally, repotting is not necessary for a long time as Euphorbia Caput-Medusae grows very slowly. However, if the plant overgrows the pot, repot as needed.
Grooming and Maintenance
Euphorbia Caput-Medusae 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 Succulent Caput-Medusae
These plants are as easy to propagate as they are to look after. Dividing the plant is the best and easiest way to propagate Euphorbia Caput-Medusae.
Divide by cutting off a side shoot. Place it in a pot or propagation tray filled with well-drained soil. In just a few days, the plant will take root in the soil.
Medusa Pest or Disease Problems
Euphorbia Caput-Medusae 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 the Medusa 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 back to health.
In rare instances, the plant can fall prey to infections that cause the side shoots to curl up and become deformed.
Although these plants are affected by infections very rarely; when they do, not much can be done to save the plant.
Suggested Uses For Euphorbia Medusa
With proper care, Caput-Medusae can live for years. Its unusual appearance makes this plant a collector’s dream.
Most people grow it as a houseplant to increase the overall aesthetic appeal of their place. While it can look good all on its own, it can do equally well among other succulents and cactus plants.