Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ f. variegata

Note: The “f.” in the name stands for “form”, or “forma”. In plant nomenclature, it is secondary to the variety or cultivar. The primary form of this plant is Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’, which is an all-green form. This particular form, the variegata, is the same variety (or cultivar in this case), only it has a different leaf appearance.

Common Name: “Pink Ghost Crest”, “Crested Pink Ghost”, or even “White Ghost Crest”, or “Crested White Ghost” are common names to ‘Cristata’ f. variegata. The primary form is commonly referred to as “Crested Elkhorn”, or “Crested Candelabra Plant”. “Coral Cactus” is also used, but “Coral Cactus” is the main common name for Rhipsalis cereuscula, so for the sake of avoiding confusion, I don’t call it that.

Scientific Classification:
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Euphorbia
Species: E. lactea
Cultivar: ‘Cristata’ f. variegata

Native To: Nursery-produced cultivar.

Note: This plant is a cultivar, and not a variety. ‘Cristata’ is the cultivar name. In short, cultivars are man-made hybrids. Varieties are true forms found in nature.

Growing Specs:

  • Appearance: Crested in form, with intricately undulating fan-shaped branches that form a zig-zag pattern. Little frills sprout out along the top ridge. Will grow up to 3 feet tall.
  • Flowering: Purple or pink flowers emerge around a year after grafting and occurs yearly, in warm conditions.
  • Hardiness: Hardy to 30 degrees F.

Care Requirements: Euphorbias are like most succulents in that they require infrequent watering. It will need well-draining soil, and it prefers to dry out between waterings. Never let the roots sit in wet soil. It may need weekly watering in the hot summer months. It can be grown inside with bright indirect light, or outside in partial sun.

Propagation: Most successfully done by grafting, in which you would join a scion (the top portion of a grafted plant) to the rootstock of a stable plant. In this case, you would take one of the crests, and graft it onto Euphorbia canariensis or Euphorbia resinifera



sci·​on |  \ ˈsī-ən   \


1. a detached living portion of a plant (such as a bud or shoot) joined to a stock in grafting and usually supplying solely aerial parts to a graft

Toxicity: As with all Euphorbias, when a plant gets damaged, it exudes a thick white milky sap known as latex. This latex is poisonous and particularly dangerous for the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. Therefore, it can be poisonous to pets if ingested. Check out my Pet Safety Guide for more information.

Xylem Rising’s Observations: Though it is not recommended to expose this plant to several hours of full sun every day, it will do fine in 2-3 hours of direct sunlight. I put mine outside over the summer, and it went from white with light green tips and a hue of pink, to mostly pink! From several months of sun exposure, the whole plant was pink. After 3 months of being back inside, the pink has remained. It’s so pretty!



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All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley. Please ask permission before taking.

  1. Grafting Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ f. variegata


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