The slipper plant (Euphorbia bracteata Jacq.) is a species in the form of a small shrub belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
E. bracteata species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Diadenaria articulate Klotzsch & Garcke;
– Diadenaria involucrate Klotzsch & Garcke;
– Diadenaria pavonis Klotzsch & Garcke;
– Pedilanthus articulates (Klotzsch & Garcke) Boiss .;
– Pedilanthus bracteatus (Jacq.) Boiss .;
– Pedilanthus greggii Millsp .;
– Pedilanthus involucratus (Klotzsch & Garcke) Boiss .;
– Pedilanthus olsson-sefferi Millsp .;
– Pedilanthus pavonis (Klotzsch & Garcke) Boiss .;
– Pedilanthus rubescens Brandegee;
– Pedilanthus spectabilis Rob .;
– Tithymalodes articulatum (Klotzsch & Garcke) Kuntze;
– Tithymalodes bracteatum (Jacq.) Kuntze;
– Tithymalodes involucratum (Klotzsch & Garcke) Kuntze;
– Tithymalodes pavonis (Klotzsch & Garcke) Kuntze;
– Tithymalus aztecus Croizat;
– Tithymalus bracteatus (Jacq.) Haw .;
– Tithymalus eochlorus Croizat;
– Tithymalus greggii (Millsp.) Croizat;
– Tithymalus olsson-sefferi (Millsp.) Croizat;
– Tithymalus spectabilis (Rob.) Croizat;
– Tithymalus subpavonianus Croizat;
– Ventenatia bracteata (Jacq.) Treat.
The term Euphorbia comes from “Εὔφορβος Euphorbos” Euphorbus, Greek physician of Juba II king of Numidia, who – according to Pliny – discovered the medicinal virtues of some plants of this genus; the name Euforbo derives from ἐῧ éu bene and from φέρβω phérbo nourish or from φορβή phorbé nourishment: well fed. According to Treccani from the classical Latin euphorbium / euphorbia.
The specific epithet bracteata comes from Latin and means “with bracts”.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Euphorbia bracteata is an endemic plant of western Mexico from the State of Sonora to that of Guerrero where it is quite widespread.
Its habitat is that of flat or slightly undulating land and on the edge of arid broad-leaved woods, where it grows at an altitude between 300 and 600 m a.s.l.
Euphorbia bracteata is a small evergreen or deciduous perennial shrub that grows up to about 1.8 m, reaching 3 m in its natural habitat, and 0.9-1.2 m wide, which branches abundantly from the base.
The branches are erect, succulent, covered with wax, narrow, cylindrical, green, rough or slightly hairy and without leaves before flowering.
The leaves, just near the tips of the branches, are ovate, 4,5-10 cm long, 25-6 cm broad, with a thick central keeled rib in the lower part, from glabrous to pubescent; petiole 3-4 mm long.
It produces abundant flowering; the flowers have slightly shoe-shaped reddish bracts (hence the name of the plant).
The inflorescence is at the top, branched from 1 to 3 near the tip of the stem. The floral organs, containing separate male and female parts, are enclosed in roundish reddish pink, ovate bracts, 1,8-4,5 cm long, 1,5-3,5 cm broad. they have a curious shape of pale green to reddish color; peduncle 4-8 mm long, 10-16 mm long tube, 10-15 mm long spur protruding obliquely, widely blunt: nectar glands 2; stylus up to 14 mm.
The flowering season is from late spring to summer.
The flower is believed to be pollinated by hummingbirds and insects.
The fruit is a capsule, sub-square, superficially trilobed, 10-13 mm in diameter, with a 7-12 mm peduncle.
The seed is ovoid, 5-7 mm long and 4-5 mm wide.
Euphorbia bracteata is a relatively fast growing succulent plant in areas with a mild climate and is also an excellent plant to grow in pots in full sun or even partial shade. The plant needs water from October, when new leaves can be seen forming on the growing tip, although some suggest watering it moderately all year round as it tends to be an opportunistic plant that tends to grow all year round. when it has enough water, if in good weather; while it goes into dormancy when temperatures are too hot or too cool. However, it must be cultivated, if possible, in climatic conditions similar to its natural habitat.
It prefers well-drained, ventilated soil, consisting mainly of non-organic material such as clay, pumice, lava sand and just a little peat or leaf soil.
As for irrigation, it prefers good but infrequent watering and thrives well with regular watering in the warm months, while less water should be given during the winter. Stagnation must be avoided and it adapts to different growing conditions, from extreme heat and drought, to high humidity as it resists rotting well.
For fertilization, a slow release fertilizer is recommended from time to time.
The plant grows rather slowly in pots; when necessary it is advisable to repot in a slightly larger pot. The pot should be only slightly larger than the original pot and with a hole for drainage.
As for the climatic conditions, it resists up to about -5 ° C, it is grown outdoors in the warm tropical and Mediterranean climate, with temperatures that should be kept above 5 ° C, preferably 10-12 ° C, but it resists the light to freezing for short periods if very dry, in these situations it resists better if sheltered from the winter rains, since humidity and low temperatures make it more sensitive to rot. Container plants, however, can experience significant leaf loss.
It prefers a full sun exposure to filtered light.
If the flower bracts dry out and the tip does not show blooms, it is recommended to prune about six inches of the stem tip to encourage new growth.
For a plant pot with many stems, a sturdy round support stake is recommended, using soft twine or wire to bind.
Propagation can be by seed or cutting. It is easy to propagate by cuttings from late spring to summer, just take a pointed stem by cutting directly into the ground after the milky sap has completely drained. (preferably dry, loose, very well-draining soil).
This plant lends itself to being grown in the garden in the ground or as a specimen in a container, giving it a good ornamental appearance.
Finally, it is warned that most of the species in the family have a white latex, a milky sap in the stems and leaves of the plant that is poisonous. Therefore, care must be taken when handling as the plant can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
Customs and Traditions –
Euphorbia bracteata is a plant that, in addition to ornamental purposes, is harvested in its natural state for local medicinal use and as a source of wax.
As mentioned before, although there is no specific information for this plant, the latex in most, if not all Euphorbiaceae, is caustic and toxic: contact with the skin often causes irritation and blisters; contact with eyes can cause temporary or even permanent blindness; while ingestion can cause even more serious problems.
There is no information for edible uses while there are records of its use for medicinal purposes.
The plant is believed to have purgative, emetic, emmenagogic and anti-syphilitic properties.
The plant is the source of a wax (Candelilla wax), which is used in the same way as carnauba wax (obtained from Copernicia prunifera Mill. H.E. Moore and other species).
It is used to make various high quality polishes and paints, phonograph records, candles, etc.
Candelilla wax has a very high melting point and high stability; it shines, binds oils in an optimal way, adheres well, is pleasant on the skin, when heated it smells like beeswax and is even edible. Candelilla wax is therefore an ideal ingredient for cosmetic products, especially lipsticks, which thanks to this wax acquire greater stability.
Preparation Method –
The leaves of Euphorbia bracteata are used for medicinal use.
In addition, the food industry uses the wax that is obtained in multiple applications: to coat jelly babies, nuts, coffee beans, food to munch on and chocolate, to prevent them from sticking together. Thanks to Candelilla wax, industrially obtained baked goods take on a beautiful brown color and do not stick during cooking. In chewing gum, Candelilla wax guarantees the right consistency. Citrus fruits, apples, melons and pears, if coated with a layer of this wax, remain fresh longer and are called “waxed”.
Paper and cardboard coatings, fluid glue, shoe cleaning products, writing ink, protective paint for furniture, erasers, carbon paper and candles: the list of products in the which or on which Candelilla wax gives shine, consistency and protection against humidity and stickiness has no end. The rubber itself and the discs are coated with it.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.