Pronounciation: U-FOR-bee-a tir-u-CAL-li ROW-se-a
Landscape Use: Strong accent shrub for xeric landscapes, container plant.
Form & Character: Evergreen rounded and upright, colorful, unique, dry.
Growth Habit: Slow to eventually 4 to 5 feet in height with somewhat lesser spread. Stems of cultivar 'Rosea' lack chlorophyll thus growth rate is much slowed.
Foliage/Texture: Leaves produces on juvenile plants at the stem apecies and are ephemeral, stems of 'Rosea' are colored (orange and red), generally leafless. The stems contain white latex that might be toxic and can cause dermal rashes and blistering, oral ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; fine texture.
Flowers & Fruits: Insignificant
Seasonal Color: None
Temperature: Tolerant of desert heat. The cultivar 'Rosea' is cold hardy to 30o, while the species is hardy to 25o.
Light: Full sun, shade reduces foliar color.
Watering: Water sparingly only as needed.
Pruning: Some occassional supplemental water is needed, especially in desert landscapes.
Propagation: Stems cuttings propagate easily.
Disease and pests: Root rot is the only real problem with this otherwise tough shrub.
Additional comments: Fire sticks is a cultivar named 'Rosea' of the normally very large (20 to 30 feet in height) pencil cactus (P. tirucalli). It is a visually stunning plant that enlivens most any garden or landscape setting especially during winter when the stem color is most intense. The latex from the stems can be processed into a low grade rubber and has gained recent interest as a source for biofuel.