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Jacob's Ladder
Euphorbia tithymaloides subsp. smallii

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Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)
Species: tithymaloides subsp. smallii
Synonym:Pedilanthus smallii
Synonym:Tithymalus smallii
Synonym:Pedilanthus tithymaloides subsp. smallii


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Cactus and Succulents


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer


Grown for foliage







Other details:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From softwood cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Hidden Meadows, California

Bartow, Florida

Bradley, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

New Orleans, Louisiana

Mansfield, Texas

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 3, 2013, Lois81 from Mansfield, TX wrote:

I had this plant years ago and always enjoyed it. I lived in a condo so pot gardened on my patio. I have moved many times since then and must have given it away. I frequent a restaurant here in Mansfield by the name of Steven's Garden (it actually was originally a nursery.) The owner has many large containers full of what she calls Red Bird and I call Devil's Backbone. She gave me some starts late last summer. I rooted them in water and potted them after about a month. All five starts are in the same pot and doing very well. Since I live in an apartment with no patio mine will always be a house plant. I think it is time to move up a size on the pot. I have a question regarding the correct potting soil which is: should I use all purpose potting soil or the African Violet Potting M... read more


On Dec 22, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

In Florida, this plant will grow in hot, dry places where nothing else will grow, yet will survive our wet, humid summers. It is most colorful in the winter when the foliage changes from green and white to pink and bronze.

A euphorbia, one must be careful of the sap when pruning. It roots easily, yet is not invasive.

This is really a subspecies of Pedilanthus tithymaloides. It is native to south Florida.