Senecio anteuphorbiumSwizzle Sticks, Cigar Plant
Clippings from Eagle Rock sidewalk planting.
Native Range: North and Northeast Africa from Morocco (Sahara desert) to the Arabian Peninsula
Description: Senecio anteuphorbium is a summer dormant deciduous suberect or scrambling shrub that can grow to 90 to 250 cm tall and wide, sometimes forming ragged thickets. This plant was one of the earliest of the succulents to be cultivated in Europe, with plantings dated around 1570.
Stem: Ascending or arching, long joined, round, up to 12 mm in diameter, fleshy, glabrous, pale gray green, dotted and glaucous and striated with darker longitudinal lines; stems often much branched, with a characteristic “sea coral-like” look.
Leaves: Ephemeral, sessile, oblong-elliptic, obovate or cuneate appressed along the stems near the branch tips, 5-15 mm long, 2-6 mm wide, 2 mm thick, grey-green glaucous.
Inflorescence: Terminal few-headed umbelliform cymes up to 6 cm long bearing 3 to 7 spongy, rayless, discoid, capitula (flower heads) up to 2 cm in diameter that have white or greenish disk flowers with yellow stigmas and anthers. Contrarily to most succulent Senecio species that have usually foetid smelling flowers Senecio anteuphorbium has sweetly fragrant blooms. Pappus inconspicuous 12-16 mm long.
Senecio anteuphorbium (Swizzle Sticks) – A summer dormant deciduous shrub that has a generally upright growth habit to 3 to 5 feet tall with long arching pale gray green segmented round stems striated with darker longitudinal lines and small gray-green lanceolate leaves that lie appressed along the stems near the branch tips. In fall appear the very rayless flowers that have white disk flowers with yellow stigmas and anthers. Although not particularly showy in bloom the flowers lightly sweet fragrance is a pleasant surprise given the usually fetid smelling flowers of other succulent Senecio species. This plant comes from North and Northeast Africa from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula. Plant in full sun to light shade and give little to no irrigation but with occasional summer irrigation will hold the leaves on the stems which otherwise fall off. Though often listed for frost free gardens this plant has proven stem hardy to 25° F during our January 2007 freeze. Makes an interesting and wild plant in the garden or in a large pot. Trim out low horizontal stems as needed to show off the more upright ones. In the 1928 “Standard Cyclopedia of American Horticulture” by L.H Bailey this plant is described as being one of the earliest of the “Cape plants” to be cultivated in Europe, with plantings dated around 1570, and that the name “anteuphorbium”, or Ante-euphorbium as it was commonly called, was in reference to its being “a reputed antidote against the acrid poison of the Cape Euphorbia [E. officinarum]”. Gordon Rowley in “Succulent Compositae” notes that he could “find no scientific evidence to support its supposed beneficial properties. Although this plant did not come from the Cape region its early cultivation and derivation of the name is interesting. This plant is often listed under the name Kleinia antheuphorbium and sometimes as Cacalia antheuphorbium. We use Senecio here following G.D. Rowley’s treatment combining Kleinia and Notonia into Senecio as published in the “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plant: Dicotyledons” by Urs Eggli, Springer 2002. We have grown this great succulent plant since 2007 and thank Paul Hallam for sharing this plant to us in 2005. The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery’s garden and in other gardens that we have observed it in. We also will incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing Senecio anteuphorbium.
Source: San Marcos Growers