Pedilanthus tithymaloides, variegated
Backbone, Jacob's Ladder, Slipper Flower
Devil's Backbone is a succulent
shrub with thick zigzag stems native to dry tropical
forests of Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and
northern South America.
Pedilanthus fleshy bract-cups are
shaped like pink slippers and are only open at the tip.
Pedilanthus, literally "slipper flower", are
members of the Euphorbiaceae family. This subtropical
succulent is a distant relative of poinsettias.
Devil's Backbone grows 2' to 4' tall and 2' to 3'
wide. It has 1" to 3" long leaves and makes an excellent
potted plant or low shrub.
Pedilanthus is available in two
varieties, green and variegated. The variegated form
takes on a pinkish tint during cooler weather. Scroll
down to see how they get gasoline from the Slipper
Pedilanthus tithymaloides, variegated. Click
image to enlarge.
Devil's Backbone stems. Click image to enlarge.
bract-cups. Click image to enlarge.
"Pedilanthus tithymaloides was evaluated as an
incessantly renewable and potential source of
hydrocarbons. Extracts were obtained from
successive extraction of whole plant material
with solvents like petroleum ether (b.p.
60_80°C), benzene (b.p. 80°C) and ethyl acetate
(76_78°C). A white amorphous mixture of
hydrocarbons was obtained by elution of the
column by petroleum ether (b.p. 60_80°C)
was found to be comparable with gasoline."
Potential use of Pedilanthus tithymaloides Poit.
as a renewable resource of plant hydrocarbons
Bract-cups close-up. Click image to enlarge.
close-up. Click image to enlarge.
Devil's Backbone, Jacob's Ladder, Slipper Flower
Pedilanthus tithymaloides (ped e lan'
thus tith' e ma loi' dees), variegated
Sub-Tropical / Tropical
10 - 11,
Sub-tropical -- withstands light frost or short cold spells
in protected areas
2' - 4'
Rate of Growth: Medium
Salt Tolerance: Moderate
fertile, very but well-drained soil
Water Requirements: Water
freely spring to autumn, keep fairly dry in winter, very drought tolerant
Nutritional Requirements: Balanced
liquid fertilizer monthly
Indirect sun to partial shade
Upright, bushy, clump forming small shrub
Mid-green and white mottled, evergreen or deciduous,
to 3", oval to elliptic, pink tinged in cooler weather
Fleshy pink bract-cups resembling slippers to 1/2" long, mid-spring
spots, powdery mildew, stem spots
potted accent, possible renewable
Milky sap in stems and
leaves causes stomach distress if swallowed, may cause dermatitis
$ to $$ -- inexpensive
Stem-tip cuttings in summer
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