Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ (photo courtesy of PlantHaven International, Inc.)
Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ (photo courtesy of PlantHaven International, Inc.)

Click to Enlarge

Zone
Zones 13, 23-25, 27, H1, H2
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate
Toxicity
Sap is irritating or poisonous.

Euphorbia tirucalli

Milkbush, Pencilbush
Euphorbiaceae
Cacti and succulents, Shrubs, Trees

EUPHORBIA

Diverse genus of about 2,000 species, ranging from small flowery annuals to sculptural trees. The flower is technically a cyathium, consisting of fused bracts that form a cup around the much-reduced true flowers. Cyathia may appear singly or in clusters. In some cases, as with poinsettia (E. pulcherrima), additional bracts below provide most of the color. The fruit is usually a dry capsule that releases seeds explosively, shooting them up to several feet away. Many euphorbias are succulents; these often mimic cacti in appearance and are as diverse in form and size.

All euphorbias have milky white sap that is irritating on contact or toxic if ingested (degree of irritation or toxicity varies, depending on the species). Before using cut flowers in arrangements, dip stems in boiling water or hold in a flame for a few seconds to prevent sap bleed. All need well-drained soil.

Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’ (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Story)
Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’ (photo courtesy of Thomas J. Story)

Click to Enlarge

Euphorbia tirucalli

From tropical eastern Africa. Grown for its striking pattern of silhouette or shadow. Fast growing to a possible 30 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide, usually much smaller. Single or multiple trunks support a tangle of light green, pencil-thick, succulent branches with tiny leaves present only on actively growing tips. Flowers are unimportant. The species is tolerant of seacoast conditions. Be sure to keep milky sap away from eyes, as it can cause severe damage. As a houseplant, it thrives in driest atmosphere; needs all the light you can give it, well-drained potting mix, routine watering and fertilizing.

You Might Also Like...

Ficus benjamina

From India and Malaysia. One of the most popular houseplants, this is easily held to 7 ft. high and 4 ...

Euphorbia tirucalli

From tropical eastern Africa. Grown for its striking pattern of silhouette or shadow. Fast growing to ...

Bauhinia x blakeana

Umbrella-like growth habit to 20 ft. high and wide. Flowers bloom from late fall to spring and are sha...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More

Advertisement