euphorbia ammak

Euphorbia Ammak: African Candelabra Care Tips and Tricks

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The Euphorbia ammak, commonly known as the African Candelabra or Desert Cactus, is a tree-like succulent species plant found in the spurges family. This species originates from Yemen and Saudia Arabia, thriving in the desert-like climate. The Euphorbia ammak is distinctly recognizable by its beautiful ribbed arms and height structure, thus earning the nickname Desert Cactus.

Euphorbia Ammak Overview

Hailing from the desert regions of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the Euphorbia ammak is a striking plant that many enjoy growing. The Euphorbia ammak is a fast-growing and striking plant that can grow over 8 feet indoors and in prime conditions.

The features of this plant include tall and wide ribbed arms that are spiny. These characteristics often lead people to think the Euphorbia ammak is a cactus when it’s truly a tree-like succulent species. Also, as part of a flowering plant family, the flowers can be found in various colors, including yellow-green and white, when in bloom.

Also known as the African candelabra or Desert Cactus, this species is part of the Euphorbia genus, home to around 2,000 other plant varieties such as the well-known poinsettias, ornamental crown of thorns plant, and the unique Medusa’s head.

Poinsettias: often found commercially during the holiday season, poinsettias are well known for their velvety soft red flowers and oval green foliage.

Crown of Thorns: this hardy plant is a perennial and sports long gray thorns adorned with red and pink flowers.

Medusa’s head: this species of the Euphorbia genus bears a striking resemblance to the mythological queen with a head of snakes. The legend comes to life in plant form with slender, wiry green stems.

Botanical NameEuphorbia ammak
OriginYemen, Saudi Arabia peninsula
SunlightDirect, full sun, can adjust to bright indirect light
WateringSparingly once per two weeks in summer, once per month during non-summer months
SoilSandy, fast-draining, loose
Temperature60-84 degrees Fahrenheit
PropagationCutting method
Re-PottingOnce the plant is too large to stand upright in the pot
Pests and DiseasesPowdery mildew disease, brown patches, soft brown areas, root rot, spider mites, mealybugs
ToxicityThe plant’s milky sap is toxic to humans and pets
Euphorbia Ammak: African Candelabra Care Tips and Tricks 1

Euphorbia Ammak Variegata Features

The Euphorbia ammak variegata is a hardy plant that can grow upwards of 3 feet tall and 8 inches wide in the wild, while indoor Euphorbia ammak’s can grow up to 5 feet or more! Being a succulent, the Euphorbia’s leaves aren’t traditional looking- after all, it doesn’t get the name African Candelabra tree or branched candelabra for no reason. However, both very small pale green and yellow flowers and fruit can be seen sprouting amongst the Euphorbia’s spines.

Euphorbia Ammak Care Guide

Caring for Euphorbia ammak is relatively simple! While growing rapidly during Spring-Fall, the Euphorbia ammak experiences dormancy during the winter. It is very normal for little to no growth to occur. Let’s take a closer look at what the Euphorbia Ammak needs to thrive.

Ideal Growing Place

The Euphorbia ammak originates from a desert climate and grows well in areas that reach 60-84 degrees Fahrenheit. Outdoors, the Euphorbia ammak should be planted in an area that receives full sun and has well-draining soil. During the summer months, this species does well being watered once every two weeks, but only once per month during non-summer months.

The Euphorbia ammak is commonly used as an indoor house plant. Indoor temperatures should remain in the 60-84 degrees Fahrenheit range and be placed in full sunlight to successfully grow this species. If full sunlight cannot be found indoors, the Euphorbia ammak can adjust to bright indirect light.


As a desert plant, the Euphorbia ammak can go without regular watering for longer than other house plants. During the summer months, watering should take place once every two weeks. Watering should only occur once per month during non-summer months.

It is important to stick to this watering schedule, as too much water for this plant can lead to harmful effects like root rot and mushy brown spots on the plant stalks.


The Euphorbia light requirements are best met in an area that receives full sunlight- similar to those in warmer desert climates. When choosing a spot to plant this species outdoors in a garden space.

Indoors, the plant still prefers full sun but can grow still in spaces with bright indirect light. Choose a space where the plant can receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.


Staying true to its desert nature, the Euphorbia ammak prefers a temperature range of 60-84 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider these temperatures and if your area falls in this range if you wish to plant this species outdoors. If you choose to have the Euphorbia ammak as an indoor house plant, regulating the temperature inside is easier to do.


Since Euphorbia ammak is a plant that requires less watering than a typical house plant, the soil used to plant this species needs to be well-draining. Sandy and loose soils are best to use with this species since they prevent too much water from being held in the soil. Keeping excess water out of the soil is important, so mushy brown spots or root rot do not affect your plant.

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Euphorbia ammak does best in an environment where the air has around 50% humidity. However, this plant does well indoors, even if the humidity level is not in that ideal range. A humidifier can control levels easily for more control over the humidity in enclosed spaces.


It is recommended to use a liquid fertilizer at half strength for your Euphorbia ammak once a month during the summer months when it is growing. If your plant is in a container or pot, you may need to use more fertilizer than those in the ground.


Euphorbia ammak is a fast-growing plant that can reach heights around 3 to 5 feet if left to grow unchecked and in prime growing conditions. However, to keep your plant at a smaller, more manageable height, you can prune the plant.

You can prune your Euphorbia ammak by using a clean and serrated sharp knife to make cuttings on the “arms” or branches of the plant. This can be achieved easiest by laying the plant down horizontally, but it can also be done vertically if you cannot lay it down. Due to the toxic sap that runs through this plant, you should wear garments that protect your eyes, hands, and arms while pruning.

Potting and Re-potting

Depending on how quickly your Euphorbia ammak grows in your environment, the time of re-potting will be decided when the plant is too tall to hold itself upright in the container. When the plant grows too tall, it is recommended to re-pot in a new container that is 2” wider in diameter than the previous one. Using fresh soil, place your Euphorbia ammak (with cleaned-off roots) into the new pot and give it about 2-4 weeks to settle into its new home.

Growth Zone

The Euphorbia ammak plant can be found in the USDA hardy zone 9b to 11b. In the United States, these zones can be found along with the southernmost states and along the west coach branching up to Washington state. Consider where your space is located compared to the growth zones where this plant can be successfully grown outdoors.

Common Pests, Toxins, Diseases & Other Problems

Diseases that can affect the desert cactus often stem from overwatering the plant. When desert-origin plants receive too much water, their delicate roots can become overwhelmed and begin to rot. Furthermore, powdery mildew disease can affect the plant from this.

Other common Euphorbia ammak problems can include pests like spider mites and mealybugs. Also, don’t forget to consider the milky, latex-like sap that runs through the Euphorbia ammak plant, which is toxic to humans and pets. This toxic sap can cause severe irritation to skin, and other body surfaces it comes in contact with.


The best method of propagation for the Euphorbia ammak is to make cuttings. The first step of cutting is identical to pruning your plant. Once you have cut off an “arm or branch of the plant using a clean serrated knife, wash it with cool water and dry it off. Next, plant in fresh soil and place it in a warm and dry spot.

Euphorbia Ammak: African Candelabra Care Tips and Tricks 2

Euphorbia Ammak Mature Timeline

0-6 weeks: your newly propagated Euphorbia ammak will be establishing new roots in the fresh soil. The plant is delicate during this time and should not be handled too much.

After 6 weeks: roots will have been established in the soil, and you can resume normal care of your Euphorbia ammak plant.

Euphorbia Ammak FAQ

Is Euphorbia Ammak Poisonous?

Euphorbia ammak, also known as the desert cactus or candelabra spurge, has a toxic, milky, latex-like sap that runs through the plant. When the plant is cut open, the sap can come out and cause skin irritation if you come into contact with it. It is toxic for humans and pets.

How Toxic Is Euphorbia Ammak to Cats, Dogs, and Humans?

The Euphorbia ammack plant’s milky sap is toxic for humans and pets. If the sap comes into contact with skin or is ingested, it can cause severe irritation.

Does Euphorbia Ammak Flower?

Yes, the Euphorbia ammak belongs to a family of flowering plants and does produce flowers. The flowers of this species come in yellow-green and white.

Is Euphorbia Ammak a Cactus?

With the nickname desert cactus, it is no surprise many think this plant is a cactus. However, it is actually a tree-like succulent plant.

Can Euphorbia Ammak Grow From Mid Stem Cutting?

It is recommended to make cuttings of the Euphorbia ammak at the “arms” or branches of the plant for optimal root growth. Cutting from the mid-stem is not recommended and could harm your plant’s health.

Do Euphorbias Need More Water Than Cacti?

Euphorbias tend to require more watering than cacti since cacti can store water for longer periods of time. Therefore, it is recommended to water your Euphorbia ammak once every two weeks in summer and once a month during non-summer months.

Why Are There Brown Spots on My Euphorbia Variegated?

Brown spots can result from multiple issues. First, if the brown spot on your plant is soft and mushy, this results from overwatering. If your brown spot on the plant is dry and looks more like a burn/scorch scar, this results from too much direct sun.

The Bottom Line

The candelabra spurge, or Euphorbia ammak, is a beautiful species that stands tall in any space. It is quick growing, easy to propagate, and easy to find online and in stores. Your garden or home space will immediately come to life by following the ideal growth conditions and instructions!

Last Updated on August 25, 2022 by Gustaf Johansson

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