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Euphorbia tithymaloides subsp. smallii 'Embraceable You'

Euphorbia tithymaloides subsp. smallii 'Embraceable You'


Euphorbia tithymaloides subsp. smallii 'Embraceable You'

Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms: Pedilanthus tithymaloides 'Embraceable You'
Common Name: Seashell Devil's Backbone, Seashell Zigzag Plant


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Infraspecific Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Succulent Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 0.6 m to 1 m

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Succulent herbaceous sub-shrub, up to around 1m height, with erect form and limited branching.
Foliage Leaves fleshy, crinkled, concavely-cupped like tortoise shells, glossy grey-green with white margins, held close to stems (thus a likely inspiration for its tradename).
Stems Fleshy, powdery grey-green, zigzag and very upright, exude milky sap when cut or bruised.
Similar Subspecies differentiated from species form by cupped leaves and more distinctly zigzag stems.
Cultivation Withstands drought, but sheds leaves under extreme dryness. Moderately salt-tolerant. Prefers well-drained soils with medium fertility. Propagate by stem cuttings. Acrid sap from damaged leaves, stems and roots may irritate skin, toxic if ingested.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Euphorbia' named after Euphorbus -- physician to Juba II, King of Mauretania (52BC- 23AD). Ancient Greek philosopher Pliny recounted that Juba called a plant he found at Mount Atlas Euphorbia in honour of his physician. Species epithet 'tithymaloides' means resembling the genus Tithymalus (defunct, now synonym of Euphorbia) -- an ancient Greek name for a group of plants with milky sap. Subspecies epithet 'smallii' named after American botanist Dr. John Kunkel Small (1869-1938), who served as the first Curator of Museums at New York Botanical Garden, and travelled extensively across Florida to document its flora and landmarks.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Stems
Landscape Uses Coastal, Suitable for Rooftops, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Silver Garden, Rockery / Desert Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Irritant - Sap, Toxic Upon Ingestion
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Milky sap

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Little Water
Plant Growth Rate Slow
Rootzone Tolerance Drought Tolerant, Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Shallow Media
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Silver / Grey, White
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny, Thick, Crinkled / Twisted
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire - Wavy / Undulate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Acute

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)
Specialised Storage Organ(s) Aboveground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flowering Period Rarely
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Image Repository



Master ID 29446
Species ID 3755
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 08 June 2022.