What Does Euphorbia Look Like

The plant genus Euphorbia (Euphorbia spp.) contains more than 2,000 species. Around 1,200 of them are succulents, some of which have odd shapes and broad, mushy leaves, while others remarkably resemble cactus and have spines. The genus’ plants are frequently referred to as spurge or euphorbia by growers.

With repeated additions and deletions of species and subgenera, Euphorbia is a somewhat ambiguous genus. The genus contains species that are annual, perennial, and biennial. There are species of herbaceous plants, woody shrubs, as well as deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. The presence of a milky white sap in the plants is the defining trait among the species.

Most of the euphorbia species utilized for landscaping or as indoor plants are succulents with interesting forms and foliage, but a handful are also prized for their blooms. The poinsettia is one of the most well-known euphorbia species that is not a succulent.

The majority of euphorbias flower in the spring or summer and hibernate over the winter. Most species should be planted in the spring, when the risk of frost has gone, however houseplants can usually be started at any time. The growth rates of the species range from slowly to rather swiftly.

Euphorbia is poisonous to dogs, cats, and humans in all forms. Each plant species has a different amount of toxicity.

Is euphorbia toxic to humans?

The milky secretion of the Euphorbia plant, sometimes known as latex, is extremely poisonous and irritating to the skin and eyes. This study provides an illustration of the range of ocular inflammation brought on by unintentional ingestion of Euphorbia plant latex. Three patients came in with recently developed accidental ocular exposure to milky sap of a Euphorbia species. In all cases, there was a significant burning sensation along with vision blur. Visual acuity decreased to counting fingers from 20/60. Clinical findings ranged from anterior uveitis to secondary increased intraocular pressure, mild to severe corneal edema, epithelial defects, and keratoconjunctivitis. With active supportive treatment, all symptoms and indicators disappeared after 10 to 14 days. When handling euphorbia plants, wear safety goggles. Asking the patient to bring a sample of the plant for identification is usually advisable.

Trees, succulents, and herbaceous plants all belong to the Euphorbiaceae genus.

[1] There are numerous kinds of Euphorbia that can be found growing in the wild or in gardens or homes as cultivated examples. The milky sap or latex is poisonous and can cause severe skin and eye problems. From moderate conjunctivitis to severe kerato-uveitis, ocular toxic response can vary [2]. There are a few case reports of people losing their sight permanently as a result of accidentally putting Euphorbia sap in their eyes. [24] Corneal involvement typically proceeds in a predictable order, with edema getting worse and epithelial sloughing on the second day. [3,5] Some species are thought to be more poisonous than others. [6] The inflammation usually goes away without leaving any aftereffects when it is promptly treated and carefully maintained. Here, we show three instances of ocular toxicity brought on by three distinct Euphorbia species: E. trigona (African milk tree), E. neriifolia (Indian spurge tree), and E. milii (Crown-of-thorns houseplant).

How is Euphorbia recognized?

  • The perennial herbaceous plant known as leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) grows two to four feet tall.
  • When damaged, stems, flowers, and leaves release a sap that is milky white.


  • Late in May, little, colorful, yellow-green bracts bloom.
  • produces single, stemmed blooms from the leaf axils below that form umbrella-shaped flower clusters with seven to ten flowers at the top of each stalk.
  • June till the end of the season for blooming.


  • A prominent seam runs down one side of this oval-elliptic shape, which is two to three millimeters long, pale to dark brown or yellow-brown, and has a fleshy appendage close to the stalk’s attachment.
  • brown-mottled capsule with three lobes.
  • High germination rate and explosive spread from a seed capsule up to 20 feet

Is euphorbia a seasonal or perennial plant?

Euphorbias are resilient, trouble-free perennial plants that are simple to grow. Euphorbias are well known for their distinctive flowers and brilliantly colored leaves, and they make wonderful additions to borders, rock gardens, meadows, and more.

How can Euphorbia be eliminated?

Since Euphorbia tirucalli, often known as the pencil cactus, tolerates extreme neglect like other succulents and readily takes root from a little slice, it could be challenging to kill and remove. Pencil cactus thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 through 11, but in colder regions, it withers away to the ground at the first sign of frost. The pencil cactus can reach a height of 30 feet when cultivated outside in the appropriate conditions. When removing pencil cactus, you should wear protective clothes to prevent skin irritation because the pencil-like branches contain a milky, deadly sap.

Use a pair of lopping shears or a pruning saw to make a clean cut through the main stem a few inches below the soil line. In order to reach the base, you might need to prune off a few of the lower branches. However, try to make as few cuts as you can to minimize the amount of sap that pours from the open wounds.

For one or two days, place the damaged plant on a hard surface apart from the soil to allow the sap to drain and the cut to heal and develop a callus. If the plant is a huge pencil cactus, cut it into multiple parts. Depending on the regulations in your neighborhood, dispose of the cactus with other yard garbage.

Apply a non-selective herbicide to the exposed trunk cut, such as one that contains around 25% glyphosate herbicide. Give the herbicide at least a week to reach the roots and completely kill the root system.

To ensure that the soil circle keeps as many of the roots as possible, dig a wide circle that is at least 12 to 18 inches away from the trunk. As you work to remove the roots from the earth, pull back on the shovel handle. Shake any extra soil off the root ball before removing it from the hole.

To get rid of any leftover roots from the pencil cactus, dig through the dirt. If the roots seem to go far beyond the hole where you removed the root ball, use a garden hoe or mattock to loosen the soil in a larger area. Throw away the root ball and its fragments.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera, one of the most well-liked succulents, is regularly utilized for therapeutic and medicinal purposes. The plant’s extracts can be found in dietary supplements, cosmetics, and flavored waters, and its sap is traditionally used to heal sunburns.

However, pets may be poisoned by this succulent. Aloe has a reputation for causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in animals, as well as making them lethargic.

Long, pointed tendrils are a distinguishing feature of aloe plants. Some types have foliage with white spots, while others bloom sporadically. Pets should not be allowed near any types.


Kalanchoes are prized for their profusion of flowers, which come in a variety of hues from soft pink to flamboyant orange. This tropical succulent is well-liked as a houseplant and goes by several names, including mother of millions, devil’s backbone, and mother-in-law plant.

This plant primarily causes vomiting and diarrhea by irritating the digestive system. Heart arrhythmias, however, can also happen.


Euphorbia is a vast and diverse genus of plants that encompasses anything from tiny, low-growing plants to gigantic giants.

Many succulents of the genus Euphorbia are harmful to both cats and dogs, including the pencil cactus and crown of thorns.

Ingestion of this succulent can cause a variety of poisoning symptoms, including gastrointestinal distress and eye and skin irritation.

It is advised to stay away from all euphorbia species, including the deadly poinsettia, if you have pets.


Similar to aloe vera, jade is a widespread, simple-to-grow houseplant that is common on windowsills. Jade plants resemble trees because to their thick, woody stalks and hefty, oval leaves.

There are various types of jade, and each one should be kept out of reach of animals. Your cat or dog may exhibit signs such as gastrointestinal distress and uncoordination if they consume jade.

What uses does the euphorbia plant have?

An herb is euphorbia. Medicine is made from the portions of the plant that are grown above ground.

Breathing diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and chest congestion are treated with euphorbia. It is also used to treat tumors, hay fever, throat spasms, and nasal and throat mucus. Some take it to make themselves throw up.

It is additionally employed in India to treat worms, dysentery, gonorrhea, and digestive issues.

There are a few key differences which I will break down:

Cacti are only indigenous to the New World, with the exception of the Rhipsalis baccifera. There are no cacti in Europe, Russia, Australia, nor in Africa or Asia (except for that one species of Rhipsalis). On the other hand, euphorbia are native to many regions of the world, although those from Africa and India are the most cactus-like.

Both cacti and euphorbias have prickles, however the prickles on each species are unique. All cacti have areoles, which are structures that serve as the source of the spines, which are modified leaves. The most common thorns on euphorbias are modified stems that are typically seen in pairs. Areoles do not exist in euphorbias.

Cacti and succulent Euphorbias both retain water for dry spells, but latex, a hazardous sap, is present in all Euphorbias. It is most likely a Euphorbia if you cut open a succulent and it weeps this white fluid.

Cacti and Euphorbias both produce flowers, however the blossoms are typically extremely dissimilar. Euphorbia blooms are often subtle, whereas cactus blossoms are frequently spectacularly colorful and striking. Flowers from euphorbia are frequently a light greenish-yellow tint. However, some Euphorbias, such as Euphorbia milii, have vivid flowers (Crown of Thorns).

So there you have it—in a nutshell, the similarities and differences between cacti and euphorbias. Next time you see a spiny succulent, you’ll be able to identify it as a cactus, a Euphorbia, or something else by taking a closer look.

Do you need to trim the euphorbia?

Euphorbias are a lovely addition to any garden since they add color in the spring and summer and have attractively shaped foliage. They also have vivid, colorful bracts.

Some evergreen euphorbias just require their faded blooms to be trimmed back once they have finished flowering. Others have biennial stems that must be trimmed to the ground after flowering, like several Euphorbia charcacia kinds. Fall is the time to trim down deciduous plants to the ground.

Wear gloves when handling euphorbias because they all have a thick, milky sap that can irritate the skin and eyes.

Do euphorbias spread quickly?

Northern California is home to isolated occurrences of Euphorbia esula, which is displacing native plant species. Prairies, grasslands, and pine savannahs are just a few of the vegetation types it can invade and take over.

Are euphorbias contagious?

The ideal plant for growing beneath large trees is Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae, one of the few species that grows in poor, dry soil in shadow. It grows through subterranean runners and finally forms a low carpet that smothers weeds. From spring to early summer, it produces erect spikes of lime green blooms in contrast to the dark glossy leaves. It serves as a good evergreen foil all year long for other shade-loving plants. It has received The Royal Horticultural Society’s esteemed Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Grow Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae in partially to completely shaded, well-drained soil. Trim back fading flower stems in the fall. Every spring, as part of routine border maintenance, remove undesirable seedlings.

Wear gloves whenever handling euphorbias. The creamy sap irritates the skin.