Euphorbia (Euphorbia cedrorum)

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Euphorbia cedrorum without leaves or flowers
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Euphorbia fact file

Euphorbia description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderEuphorbiales
FamilyEuphorbiaceae
GenusEuphorbia (1)

First described in 1993, Euphorbia cedrorum is referred to as a coralliform euphorbia because of the crown’s resemblance to ocean coral (1) (4) (5). Well-adapted to a dry climate, E. cedrorum has a woody trunk with succulent, cylindrical branches (4). Although appearing leafless, it does have tiny leaves, which are shed to leave small, circular leaf scars (2) (4) (5). Like other Euphorbias, E. cedrorum has highly specialised inflorescences, known as ‘cyanthia’, which resemble true flowers from a distance (6).  A dioecious species, each individual plant is either male or female, with the male cyanthia typically being clustered at the branch tips, while the female cyanthia are solitary (2) (4).

Size
Height: up to 3 m (2)
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Euphorbia biology

Very little is known about the biology of E. cedrorum, but as a dioecious species, cross-pollination is required for the plant to produce seed (2) (4). In many Euphorbia species, flies of the order Diptera (which are attracted by nectar) act as the primary pollinators (6).    

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Euphorbia range

The only known wild population of E. cedrorum occurs in the Tulear area of south-west Madagascar (1) (4).

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Euphorbia habitat

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Euphorbia status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Euphorbia threats

Having first been described from a cultivated plant in 1993, E. cedrorum was soon after discovered at a single location in south-west Madagascar (1) (4). However, only a few mature specimens are known from this locality, and although it is said to possibly occur further south, there is no evidence to support this. The habitat in which the remaining specimens occur is highly endangered and prone to clear-cutting for charcoal production (1).

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Euphorbia conservation

Euphorbia cedrorum receives some protection from international trade under its listing on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3). However, in the absence of more direct conservation measures, E. cedrorum is likely to soon qualify for classification as Critically Endangered or even Extinct in the Wild on the IUCN Red List (1). Fortunately, specimens are still being cultivated in botanical gardens (4).

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Cross-pollination
The transfer of pollen between flowers on different plants.
Dioecious
Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants.
Inflorescences
The reproductive shoots of a plant, which bear groups or clusters of flowers.
Pollinators
Animals that in the act of visiting a plant's flowers transfer pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Eggli, U. (2003) Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany.
  3. CITES (March, 2010)
    http://www.cites.org/
  4. Conservatoire Botanique National de Brest (March, 2010)
    http://www.cbnbrest.fr/site/pdf/livret_serre.pdf
  5. Hart, G. (2007) Succulents that survive in the Madagascar tsingy. Cactus and Succulent Journal, 79(3): 109-115.
  6. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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Image credit

Euphorbia cedrorum without leaves or flowers  
Euphorbia cedrorum without leaves or flowers

© Maria del Carmen Algaba Rubio

Maria del Carmen Algaba Rubio
Spain
maribaloo@gmail.com
http://cactus-baloo.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html

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