Intriguing, Beautiful and Poisonous

It’s best to use caution with any Euphorbia – they are interesting, intriguing and poisonous, with caustic sap that can cause blindness or a contact dermatitis skin rash like nothing you’ve ever seen.


The unwary must be protected from these plants, yet you see them in many places with no warning signs to protect naive buyers.

The sap is white and milky, and in some cases has been transferred by tiny droplets spraying out as the plant is cut, or if it gets on the hands of a gardener and then they wipe the sweat off their brow the results can be devastating. The pain and suffering that these plants can cause is long lived.

Children and pets must be kept well away from Euphorbia.

Please use extreme caution when handling these plants.

There are so many forms of Euphorbia, you would never know that they’re all related. The identification of many plants is based on the formation of their flowers.

For many members of this genus, the flowers tend to be tiny, framed by colorful bracts (think Poinsettia, those bright flowers sold around Christmas time – the flowers are actually tiny, the beautiful colored part are the bracts).


Canarian Spurge, discovered and growing naturally on the Canary Islands, Tenerife


The seeds of Euphorbia lathryis are fairly unusual looking


Euphorbia ‘Snow on The Mountain’ is commonly grown in gardens around the world


Euphorbia triangularis is three-cornered, as the name suggests – it previously went by the name Euphorbia evansii.


See other stories about Euphorbias here…

Click on each link for more about each plant…


Stalk with white leaves 
Hello! I recently bought this at a nursery that sells orchids, succulents, cacti, etc. The owner said it was very rare and told me a name for it.. …

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Tall pot-plant in Greece 
I inherited this plant from the previous owners of a flat I have bought in Aigina, Greece. It is about 8 feet tall, and sits in a pot on the covered …

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Crested Euphorbia lactea
I bought it at our wonderful convenience/plant store. The owner was not sure what type of succulent it is. I hadn’t seen this kind of fan shape before. …


Mystery Succulent! Help! 
A friend of mine was given this succulent as a gift. Thing is… Nobody can figure out what it is! Any ideas??

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Weird Long Green Succulent 
the main stalk is about 0.5 inches thick, and the leaves sprouting off get to be a little over 1 inch long, maybe 1.5 inches. it seems like it might be …


need a name for my interesting succulent plant 
I was given a small plant and this is the mother plant really want to know its name – thanks


Stem with Small Thorns 
One thick stalk with little thorns on little bumps/ridges with roughly 10 leaves sprouting from the bumps/ridges near the top. About 4 inches tall.


Dark green, flat, roundish shaped with tan coloured spots. Bumpy texture.
Approximately 3 inch, 4 plants altogether. It has a “bubbly” texture with tan circles at the top of each “bubble”. The actual plant itself is dark …


? Euphorbia 
Its leaves are similar to a Donkey’s Ear plant but the stems have milky sap like the euphorbia.


spiky cucumber 
it is c. 35cm tall, and cylindrical and has very sharp pointy spikes – i acquired it from John the Vintage Gardener at Newham City Farm’s Summer open day; …


Unknown tubular succulent (Euphorbia?) 
Tubular plant with multiple stems originating from common base. Stems have leaves of varying length and will droop down as they increase in length. As …


Tall spiny plant 
I have a tall, upright plant which I inherited from my grandmother years ago. Not sure if it’s a cactus or a succulent. The stalks are triangular shaped …


Curious succulent — like a weird mini-palm tree 
I’ve got some young succulents. They have a thin body near the base and fatten up an inch or two up the trunk. These don’t show it, they’re too young. …


Funny looking and dangerous cactus. 
Hello! My friend gave me this plant for my recent graduation. It hurt me quite a bit when I didn’t know what was in the bag (she tried to warn me). …


Found plant @ Arroyo de Chamisos Santa Fe 
8.16.2013 Healthy after summer rains … I would like to know what this is please – thank you ! L. Holt / Santa Fe, NM Hi Linda, this looks suspiciously …


Small tree looking succulent with spines 
It’s looks like a tiny tree with dark green (not so fleshy) leaves on the tips of stems. Spines coat the entire thing. I got this in LA and currently …


Is this succulent?
Please, can you tell me, what is the name of this strange plant? My brother got it as a present but neither those who gave him this plant didn’t know its …


My mystery plant 
I got this plant from a neighbour. In the picture it is upright but it actually grows along the ground and in the spring it has lime green flower-like …


trunk and branches have 3 flat sides with thorns 
I inherited a large version of this plant when I bought the house but seven years later I moved and had to leave it behind. It was 8-9 feet tall. …


unknown fan shaped with thorns 
bought at home depot . lasted a yr with regular watering now dying and i dont know why because i dont know what plant it is. This is one of my pet …

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Brain Cactus Care? 
My cactus is about 15 cm tall, and 8 cm wide Is very thick, and looks like it has ‘stitches’ across the edges I think this is called a brain cactus, …


Single stem columnar cactus with large red stemmed leaves at top 
This plant is 15″ tall, never blooms and drops and regrows light green ribbed oval-shaped leaves on red stems 5″x2″ from top crown. Two columnar lobes …


Beautiful but mysterious 
Tall stems. Tiny little ‘leaves’ … seems more like a succulent than a cactus. But which one? Hi Stephen, based on your picture I’m going to say that …


Square stem, oblong leaves 
Square stem, leaves, sets seed often, I have attached picture. Drought Smart Plants reply: Hi Bev, this looks to be the Madagascar Jewel plant, which …


Fan Shaped Euphorbia 
and this is another interesting kind of cactus because of its form looking like a puzzle or human brain , dark green…?? Drought Smart Plants reply: …


fleshy fan-shaped with small oval leaves @ top 
Light green, fan-shaped, succulent or cactus (not sure), small oval leaves fan out from top. Bought this at a west elm store & it was not identified. …


Cluster succulents that look like extra long green beans 
Has a white sap (like sticky milk) and grows in front of the Phoenix Art Museum and many other newer landscapes in Phoenix. No thorns, no flowers (I think). …


I have a Frank’nSuc … 
Bought a little plant (around 3″) that’s turned into a huge heavy thing (with a trunk) about the size of a soccer ball… so heavy I need to regularly …


Tall, triangular, grean leaves at top 
This is a dark green plant. The stems are triangular or 3 sided. There are very small thin spikes at the end of each tip. Towards the top of the plant …


It has Many twisting arms that have spines along them 
It’s a beautiful…..Whatever it is Drought Smart Plants reply: it is indeed! This resembles some kind of Opuntia, but I really don’t have any idea …


Tall Skinny Succulent that keeps on Growing 
Tall light green with purplish fin shaped leaves Drought Smart Plants reply: Hi Erica, I think what you have is some type of Euphorbia, I’m not …


Uncommon Plant 
This is the second plant, (the first plant is here: Unknown Common Plant )I got from a restaurant where no one knew what the plant was. It was on …


Alien Fingers! 
Hey! I’ve always just called this plant the alien finger plant because it grows in Y-shapes that look like knobby green fingers. Any ideas? It loves it’s …


Trying to find name of this interesting plant 
This photo is of a young plant. The mature ones have kind of square stems. Little starts seem to grow on the stem and then fall off into the soil, …

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Spiky vertical stalks 
I won it in a contest at a succulent festival and nobody knew what it was called. When I first got it all the stalks had little clusters of flowers …


Euphorbia tithymaloides 
Someone called it a dragon’s back, but I can’t find it anywhere. It’s in a a pot with an Aloe and it has little leaves that all fell off when I forgot …


Brain Succulent 
This succulent has very tight 1/2″ leaves, that wrap around each other. There are very small spikes on the end of the leaves. I call it my brain succulent. …

Comments for ? Euphorbia

Dec 05, 2014
by: Jacki

There are a couple of Euphorbia that have similar leaves, with the variegation. The dead giveaway is that latex like sap, so you’re definitely wise to give this plant lots of respect.

This plant looks more similar to the Devils Backbone plant, which has the same type of leaf – less fleshy than the Donkey ears which is actually Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri, not Euphorbia.

Your plant appears to be Euphorbia bicompacta var. rubra, also known as African Milk Bush, Purple Leaf Brown Jug Plant, Tanzanian Red Milk Bush.

Hope that helps.