Single stem columnar cactus with large red stemmed leaves at top

by Christina Vincent
(Panama City, FL)

Mystery succulent/cactus

Mystery succulent/cactus

Mystery succulent/cactus

This plant is 15" tall, never blooms and drops and regrows light green ribbed oval-shaped leaves on red stems 5"x2" from top crown.

Two columnar lobes grow from each other and are lined with 1/8" fine thorns. I purchased this plant at Home Depot because it was so unusual. It had no identification tags.
I am a master gardener and have never found anyone who could identify this plant. Any idea?

Hi Christine, I wonder if it's possibly some type of Euphorbia - it seems to resemble some of the types that grow in the same way as Poinsettia. Does it bleed white sap? If so then I'm going to lean towards that option. The leaf shape kind of indicates that too. The ones that seem to me to be the closest are these:

Madagascar Jewel

Wild Poinsettia

African Milk Bush

The stem sure is cool with the leaf scars making the pattern.

Hope this helps,

Comments for Single stem columnar cactus with large red stemmed leaves at top

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Jun 20, 2016
Where did this come from?
by: Jacki

I have never heard of Euphorbia being a carcinogen or having anything to do with Epstein Barr virus. I might look into that before getting worried about it. Yes, the sap is caustic and poisonous, but I've never heard of any other effects from it.

Jun 20, 2016
How dangerous is this plant
by: )

I got this passed down from my father and have had it for years. I never realized it was poisonous, tumor causing or Epstein Barr causing.

The whole family carries the Epstein Barr virus but could it be from the plant? Just how much sap or contact would it take to cause tumors or make you sick?

Jan 06, 2015
Madagascar Jewel
by: Dorothy

I do believe I have such a plant - have had it for quite a few years without knowing what it is. Looks like a cactus but has these leaves. The leaves started to drop off on mine so I pulled them all off expecting the plant to die, and "lo and behold" puts out new leaves. I live in southern Manitoba so my plant just stays indoors all year round.

Nov 30, 2012
Definitely a Madagascar Jewel
by: Christina

Thank you! My plant is definitely a Madagascar Jewel.
It has never leaked milky sap or I would have recognized it as a euphorbia.
Knowning how toxic it is presents a problem as to where I can keep it without causing harm to us or the cat. I had to give away a 20 foot pencil plant because our feline was using it for a scratching post! It now graces the lobby of the city hall.

Thank you for identifying my rare and dangerous species.

You're so welcome, Christina - these are not a plant I grow myself, not having the room, but lots of people find them intriguing - many grow them without realizing that they have poisonous sap, and are dangerous for cats that nibble on them.

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