Devils Backbone Plant: Growing Simple As Hell

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Devils Backbone Plant

Devils Backbone Plant

The approach of Halloween prompted this devilish article. Although considered the most powerful of all evil, mythical figures, the devil — also known as Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, Old Scratch, and the Prince of Darkness — is for many folks a more-or-less whimsical character.

Consider expressions like “That little devil ate all the cookies” and “The devil made me do it.” Folks who name plants also refer tongue-in-cheek to the devil.

Among these plants, my favorite is Devils backbone plant, a Tropical American, shrubby euphorbia with zigzag stems, white-and-green leaves tinged with pink and tiny, red-bracted blossoms in summer.

No plant is more accessible to cultivate than the devil’s backbone: It grows in the sun or shade on any well-drained site and seems immune to pests.

Devils backbone plant Propagation

Propagation is achieved simply by sticking stem sections into the ground during the warm season.

The sap is an eye irritant, so handle carefully. Up to 6 feet tall, though usually half that height, this attractive plant’s only nemesis in Central Florida is severe cold.

Everyone’s heard of angel’s trumpet species, those toxic shrubs with gorgeous foot-long trumpet-shaped, fragrant flowers. At least in Florida, somewhat less familiar is their first cousin, the devil’s trumpet, Datura metal, from Southern China.

Hardier and slightly smaller than angel’s trumpet, though equally toxic, this 4-foot to 6-foot-tall herbaceous shrub bears trumpet-shaped blossoms that point upward.

Remember the difference this way: Angel’s trumpet points to hell; devil’s trumpet points to heaven.

With flowers that — depending on variety — can be single or double, purple-and-white or all white, devil’s trumpet grows in sun or light shade on moderately enriched, well-drained sites.

The large, knobby fruit is highly poisonous and should be discarded if children or pets are present.

Propagate by seeds and cuttings.

Plenty of trees sport common names that refer to the devil, and one of the prettiest is Alstonia scholaris, known as devil tree because its leaves and white, fragrant flowers are set in whorls of six.

A native of Australia and Southeast Asia, the devil tree, also called scholar’s tree because its wood is used for writing tablets, grows over 75 feet tall.

Devil tree, which vigorously self-sows, has invaded many Tropical and Subtropical areas, so let’s give this devil its due.