Euphorbias are found naturally around the planet, but are most prevalent in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. A plant spectacle is created by the variety of form and size. Some grow to be the size of trees, while others are only little groundcovers. There are more than 2,000 species, many of which you may recognize from commercial interior plantings.
Donkey spurge gets its name from the broad, rope-like stems that spread away from the plant, while the crown of thorns is distinguished by its spiky stems. Most people are familiar with the Euphorbia species known as poinsettias.
Most Euphorbia plant kinds produce odd and distinctive flowers. All Spurge cultivars have a milky latex sap that can be unpleasant or even dangerous, therefore gardeners should exercise caution while handling them.
Where can you find euphorbia?
The family Euphorbiaceae includes the genus Euphorbia. It is commonly recognized that this genus is one of the most varied in the entire plant kingdom, with approximately 2000 species. Euphorbias can range in size from weed-like, low-growing “spurges to magnificent, cactus-like succulents that can reach heights of several meters. One well-known species in this genus is the Poinsetta (E. pulcherrima), a stunning and well-liked houseplant.
The distribution of Euphorbia includes tropical regions of Africa (where the majority of the succulent Euphorbias are found), Madagascar, and the Americas as well as colder, temperate regions of Asia and Europe. Australia and the Pacific Islands both have euphorbia species.
When cut open, the majority of euphorbia species release a milky latex sap. This functions as both a defense mechanism to stop animals from eating the plant and a natural wound-healing mechanism for the plant. If it comes into touch with skin, it can result in excruciating inflammation and a rash. If consumed, some species’ latex can be quite harmful to people. The toxicities of several species are listed in this helpful resource.
This toxin has a di- or tri-terpene ester chemical structure, depending on the species. The distinctive feature that sets all euphorbia species apart from cacti is their milky sap.
A business in Australia is presently investigating the use of E. peplus sap as a skin cancer treatment. According to the notion, the sap kills the cancerous skin cells and forms a scab that finally falls off.
Due to the diversity of the genus Euphorbia, numerous reproductive strategies are seen. Monoecious plants have blooms on the same plant that are both male and female. Some Euphorbias have male and female blooms on separate plants, or they are dioecious.
This genus was given that name by Carolus Linnaeus in honor of the Greek physician Euphorbus, who is credited with discovering a use for Euphorbia as a medicine (most likely Resin Spurge).
This succulent is also a euphorbia. Take note of how the spines protrude in pairs, similar to the species seen to the right.
This Euphorbia has thick, protective skin and spines. As opposed to a cactus, the spines protrude in pairs.
Where does Euphorbia thrive?
Euphorbia species USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8 are where it is grown. In climate zones 9 to 11, the bushy evergreen Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) can reach heights of six feet. Although it can be cultivated indoors, it usually won’t grow to its full size.
Where does euphorbia live?
The bluish-green, alternating, frosted leaves of the Euphorbia esula have a hairless, non-woody stem that grows from a woody crown root. Its height is between 5 and 90 cm. This plant blooms in the summer with greenish-yellow flower clusters at the top of the stem enclosed in yellow bracts (petals that resemble leaves). It forms highly dense stands of growth.
One of the first plants to appear in the spring is Euphorbia esula. From May through June, when daily temperatures rise, stem elongation happens quite quickly. When it’s close to freezing outside, seedlings can start to appear. As the growth season goes on, some seedlings may appear to dry up and die, yet their underground sections will continue to exist and continue to develop adventitious buds, especially close to the hypocotylar end of the shoot. Due of the adventitious organs’ quick development, the primary seedling shoot typically does not live and blossom. An adventitious growth that will develop into the blossoming shoot takes its place. From May to the end of July, inflorescences emerge on the main axis. Flowering and seed development resume briefly in the fall, typically from axillary branches. Four to six weeks following the emergence of the last flower, seed distribution and seed development continue. During the hottest and driest weeks of the growing season, the plant typically stops growing. Typically, stems from seedling or root buds do not bloom their first year. Fall senescence causes plants to turn a golden-yellow or reddish-yellow before their leaves drop. The base of the newly developed shoot can be seen to have vestiges of the bare stem axis, which is woody enough to survive from summer to summer. Plants lose their ability to blossom, become less dense, and grow taller as light availability decreases. Density reaches around 200 shoots/sq m as patches grow. On heavy soils, around 60% of the shoots are formed from seed, but on light soils, vegetative reproduction primarily maintains and increases density (Biesboer, 1996).
Forage for sheep and goats can be obtained from Euphorbia esula, which has nutritional value comparable to that of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum (L.) Gaertn. Beekeepers utilize leafy spurge as an early-season food source to keep honeybee (Apis spp.) colonies alive in the early spring, but the bitter honey is not offered for human consumption.
Although it can withstand a variety of settings, including roadsides, Euphorbia esula prefers locations with direct sunlight and dry soil. E. esula can be found in mountain meadows, grasslands, savannas, and areas close to forests.
After its first year, Euphorbia esula starts to bloom. Up to 200 seeds from each plant can be produced, and between 60 and 80 percent of those seeds will germinate. When ripe, the three-celled capsule containing the seeds breaks, sending seeds up to 4.5 m away from the parent plant. Also spreading from buds on lateral secondary roots is leafy spurge.
Introduced for its brightly colored golden bracts.
possibly mingled inadvertently with agricultural seed.
Review: Rodney G. Lym from North Dakota State University’s Department of Plant Sciences
The leafy spurge has a vast root system that is made up of several coarse and fine roots that occupy a lot of soil. Although some roots can reach a depth of 4.5 m or more, the majority of roots are found in the top 30 cm of the soil. The roots have a woody, sturdy structure and a large number of buds that can sprout new shoots. By devouring available water and nutrients and shading nearby plants, E. esula outcompetes native vegetation. Forage grasses can be reduced by up to 70% or more when leafy spurge is present, although they are not entirely gone. \r\n\r\n
The true blooms of leafy spurge are surrounded by a flat-topped cluster of bracts, which are actually yellowish-green petal-like structures. About a month after the plant emerges in the spring, the colorful bracts show up and give the plant the illusion of “blooming.” The real flowers, which are tiny and green, however, begin to appear a few weeks later. \r\n\r\n
Three smooth, oblong, grey-brown seeds are contained in the pods in which the seeds are carried. When the seed is ready to be released, the seed pods explode violently and launch the seed up to 15 feet away from the parent plant. Per stem, 140 seeds are typically generated, and seeds can live for at least 8 years in the soil. \r\n\r\n
Physical: Cutting and hand-pulling are ineffectual and might make the spread worse.
Chemical: Leafy spurge is difficult to remove with herbicides alone, but a continuous management program can reduce top growth and cause a steady decline in the root system. Herbicides are employed in conjunction with sheep and goat rotational grazing programs, biological insect pest control, and the planting or reseeding of competitive grass species. Large-scale herbicide use is not cost-effective and typically kills off attractive shrubs and forbs. \r\n
With the exception of sandy soils and areas close to rivers and streams that experience seasonal flooding, leafy spurge has been successfully controlled biologically by insects in almost all ecosystems. Within four years of release, mixed populations of the flea beetles Aphthona czwalinae Weise and Aphthona lacertosa Rosenhauer reduced leafy spurge density by almost 95%. (Lym & Nelson, 2000). The most effective agent in a variety of habitats has been A. lacertosa, but A. nigriscutis and A. cyparissiae have also spread widely and established themselves in North America. \r\n
The only multi-generational biological control insect introduced for this weed is the leafy spurge gall midge (Spurgia esulae Gagn), which produces stem tip galls on leafy spurge. Established infestations are not lessened since the gall midge merely stops seed-set. But this bug will establish itself in places where Aphthona spp. won’t, including shaded forests and meadows that occasionally get wet. \r\n
Though they have been thoroughly studied, no microbial biological control agents have yet been successfully introduced to control leafy spurge. \r\n
A. czwalinae and A. lacertosa combined with a fall-applied treatment of herbicides like picloram plus 2,4-D or imapzpic reduced leafy spurge density 3 to 5 years earlier than when either method was used alone. Once the density was reduced, the Aphthona flea beetles maintained acceptable control for at least 7 years. Fall-applied treatments did not inhibit flea beetle establishment or reproduction, while spring-applied herbicides destroyed the adult food source and had a detrimental impact on the flea beetle establishment (Lym & Nelson, 2002). Additionally, the production of leafy spurge has decreased more due to the addition of Aphthona species than it has due to insects alone (Lym, 2005).
Euphorbia can it grow outside?
2. Crown of thorns: Also known as Christ plant or Christ thorn, the crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) is a low-maintenance plant that adapts well to both indoor and outdoor environments.
Are Euphorbia plants cacti?
The succulent members of the Euphorbia genus of plants are renowned for their graceful and architectural appearance.
Due to the fact that many of the common kinds are stem succulents, these plants are sometimes mistaken for cacti. However, they actually belong to a completely separate genus that has nearly 2000 species!
This article will discuss what makes Euphorbia so distinctive and remarkable, why it is not a cactus, how to care for Euphorbia, which species are some of the more well-known ones, and other topics.
Are humans poisoned by euphorbia?
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.
 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 . There are a few case reports of people losing their sight permanently as a result of accidentally putting Euphorbia sap in their eyes.  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.  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).
Does euphorbia grow indoors?
Have a space in your home that receives a lot of light and begs for a plant? With the right care and attention, columnar euphorbia, which are intricate, sculptural succulents, will thrive inside. Continue reading for information on growing euphorbia as indoor plants as well as other fascinating facts about this beautiful plant. So come choose your favorite euphorbia at Flora Grubb Gardens, our store in San Francisco!
Let’s first address the biggest issue in the room: euphorbia are not cactus!
Despite having a similar appearance, cactus and columnar euphorbia are separate plants. You may observe the cactus’ rigid, upright trunk and arms if you look at a Saguaro. It grows in the desert and has spikes to protect itself from predators. Then take a look at a candelabra tree, which is a kind of euphorbia and has arms that are spiky for defense. In the desert, candelabra trees can also be found. What makes a difference, then? Contrary to popular belief, there are no cacti outside of the “New World.” Surely Africa has cacti, right? True, there are no cacti in Africa.
Understanding convergent evolution, which is described as “the process by which creatures that are not closely related independently evolve identical features as a result of needing to adapt to comparable habitats or ecological niches,” is necessary to reconcile this finding. In summary, because they were compelled to evolve in the same manner and under comparable circumstances, cactus and euphorbia are almost identical. Because this is an effective method for storing water, they are columnar. Spikes are used to protect that water. Despite having a similar appearance, they are totally unrelated despite having diverged over vast distances.
How do we tell the difference, then? The key differentiator is the flowers. Cactus blossoms are enormous, delicate, and frequently vividly colored. They are frequently pollinated by birds or bats. Fly pollination is common for euphorbia blooms, which are tiny, often green, and somewhat unimpressive. Whereas at first glance the spikes appear to be similar, closer examination reveals that euphorbia has thorns while cactus has spines (a modified leaf) (a modified stem). The majority of euphorbia have a toxic latex sap to aid in their defense, which is another distinct feature.
Columnar Euphorbia thrive well indoors when planted in a cactus mix that drains quickly. Here are some tips for taking care of them at home:
Euphorbias are warm-blooded plants, therefore south or west-facing windows inside—where the plant receives four or more hours of direct sunlight daily—are ideal, though they can also grow in extremely intense indirect light. If placed within 18 inches of a window, they could burn because their skin is more sensitive than cactus. To avoid this, arrange them so that they are angled toward the window. Make sure the plant has excellent drainage and is kept as warm as you can if you are growing it in bright indirect light.
Since these plants grow throughout the summer, water should be progressively increased through late spring and into the season when they can experience dryness without becoming completely parched. This indicates that the soil does not feel damp or chalky or cracked throughout the entire container. During this time, don’t leave them to sit about completely dry; shriveling is a sign that they haven’t received enough water. Although fertilizer is typically not necessary, you can use an all-purpose fertilizer in the summer at 1/4 strength.
During the fall, water should be gradually reduced. Euphorbia naturally receive relatively little winter precipitation. They should become completely dry between waterings over the winter. Make sure to let your euphorbia stand in a saucer of water until it has completely absorbed the water because it can be difficult to rehydrate a completely dry plant (as it is like a dry sponge, where water will just run off). Until there is standing water in the saucer that isn’t being absorbed, keep adding water and letting the plant sucking it out. The surplus water can then be emptied out of the saucer or removed by placing a towel, sponge, or turkey baster within the saucer to absorb it. Never leave columnar euphorbia submerged for longer than 12 hours.
Brown spots are the most typical problem with these columnar euphorbia. They may be corking if they are light brown and hard like a scab, which is the normal process of a plant aging. Consider corking as a tree’s smooth, green bark turning woody over time. Relax, this is very normal.
However, rot is present if the brown spots are deeper and mushy. The plant needs to have the rot surgically removed since it will spread and kill it. The more likely it is that you can rescue your plant, the earlier you catch rot. There are three conceivable scenarios here:
Dig down to healthy, vigorous tissue to treat a small area of rot, then let the plant repair by developing a scab.
You must remove the top, clear the rot from the top and bottom back to healthy, lively tissue, and then re-root the top if it has ringed the column halfway up. Replant the top in extremely fast-draining soil (half pumice or lava rock and half cactus mix) and set it in a warm, sunny location out of direct sunlight after allowing it to scab over for two to three weeks. If you have it, rooting hormone is also helpful for this. For re-rooting, cement or tile flooring work well because they carry heat to the plant; but, if you have a heat mat, you can use that as well. Set it to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. In this case, the top of the plant will produce a new plant, and the bottom plant will continue to develop and produce new heads. (You would also propagate the plant in this manner, typically in the late spring when it is actively growing.)
If the column’s base begins to deteriorate and spiral around it, you should discard the bottom and propagate the top. You may recall that we mentioned the plant’s latex sap is poisonous. Use gloves and avoid getting sap in your eyes while doing this because it is a serious skin and eye irritant.
Other typical issues with euphorbia grown indoors typically result from the plants being grown in chilly environments with insufficient sunlight. Summertime underwatering of plants causes problems, but even a small amount of wintertime overwatering can be disastrous. Another typical error is to not water until the soil is completely saturated.
Euphorbia leucodendron and Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ (also known as pencil cactus), two non-columnar euphorbias with lovely forking shapes that resemble aquatic flora almost as much as possible, may both be grown indoors. These require a lot of light to develop as houseplants and can even grow in bright, direct sunlight beside a window, just like the columnar euphorbia. (Not a good option for houses with pets due to the previously mentioned toxic sap!)
These incredible plants may, of course, also be cultivated outside in a temperate region like the Bay Area, even flourishing in the foggy streets of San Francisco. These euphorbia prefer a warm, protected location with plenty of sunlight and good drainage. They enjoy being next to radiant south- or west-facing walls or fences as well as slopes where water can drain off. Since they are summer growers, they will require more water during this dry period. However, if you want to fertilize, use an all-purpose fertilizer sprayed at 1/4 strength as they are typically not hungry. They frequently fail in clay soil, partial sunlight, or areas that receive an excessive amount of winter precipitation (in addition to our natural rainfall). Clay soil can benefit from mounding.