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  Euphorbia tirucalli L.
  Family Name : Euphorbiaceae

  Synonyms : Euphorbia rhipsaloides, Acalypha indica

  Common Names : African Milkbush, Finger Tree, Caustic Bush, Pencil Euphorbia, Pencil Tree, Milk Hedge, Petroleum Plant, Milk Bush, Tentulang, Tulang-Tulang

  Chinese Name : 绿玉树, 綠珊瑚

African Milkbush,Finger Tree,Caustic Bush,Pencil Euphorbia,Pencil Tree,Milk Hedge,Petroleum Plant,Milk Bush,Tentulang,Tulang-Tulang
  • Record Info
    • Featured in '1001 Garden Plants in Singapore' Book (2ed) :
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Lifespan (in Singapore) :
      Mode of Nutrition :
      Maximum Height :
      3 m to 9 m
      Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width :
      2 m to 3 m
  • Biogeography
    • Native Distribution :
      East Africa to South Africa, India
      Native Habitat :
      Preferred Climate Zone :
      Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal, Desert / Arid
      Local Conservation Status :
      Exotic (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)
      CITES Protection :
      True (Appendix II)
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      Growth Form: Succulent tree with a highly branched growth form, usually up to 3-5 m tall, but sometimes up to 10 m tall.
      Foliage: Oblanceolate leaves (=lance-shaped but wider near the tip) drop off soon after they are produced (1-2.5 cm long, 3-4 mm wide).
      Fruits: Dry, dehiscent fruits are known as capsules which are small and round.
      Associated Fauna :
      In South Africa, crested guinea-fowl, francolins and Velvet monkeys consume the fruits, while black rhinos eat the branches.
      Cultivation :
      Avoid skin or eye contact with the milky latex which can cause welts or temporary blindness.
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
      Medicinal (Small doses of latex traditionally used to treat warts, asthma, rheumatism, syphilis and various other ailments. In Java, latex is also rubbed over skin to treat bone fractures. Pounded stems used as poultice to relieve swellings and remove embedded thorns. Roots used as antidote for snakebites, and root infusions used to relieve aching bones. Latex mistakenly believed by some in Africa to be a cure for male sterility, and attempted ingestions resulted in serious consequences, including death. Also regarded as folk remedy for cancers and tumours, but this is questionable, especially since it is implicated as a co-factor in Burkitt's lymphoma.), Timber & Products (Wood is white and borer-resistant, as well as stronger than that of other Euphorbia species, but not normally utilized other than to make rafters, veneers and toys.), Agriculture / Forestry (In Sri Lanka, this species is planted as a hedge between paddy fields.)
      [Others]: Plant regarded as "fish poison" tree due to milky latex -- macerated branches are placed in streams to stun fishes and make them easier to capture. Toxic latex also used as rat poison. Thought to be a mosquito repellent and planted for this purpose in Africa. Also planted as thicket-like hedges around houses to keep out wildlife and livestock. Once thought to be a possible source of rubber, but the high-resin latex is of too poor quality for rubber production. The rubber is added to a paint applied to the bottom surface of boats to prevent them from being colonized by marine creatures.
  • Landscaping Features
    • Desirable Plant Features :
      Ornamental Stems
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Dry Soils / Drought, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Poor Infertile Soils
      Landscape Uses :
      General, Coastal, Hedge / Screening, Swimming Poolside, Focal Plant, Container Planting
      Thematic Landscaping :
      Rockery / Desert Garden
      Usage Hazards / Cons :
      Toxic Upon Ingestion, Irritant - Contact Allergy, Irritant - Sap
  • Fauna, Pollination & Dispersal
    • Pollination Method(s) :
      Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Butterfly, Moth); Insects (Bee); Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp); Vertebrates (Bird))
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun
      Water Preference :
      Little Water
  • Foliar
    • Foliage Retention :
      Mature Foliage Colour(s) :
      Foliar Modification :
      Reduced / Needle-like
      Foliar Type :
      Simple / Unifoliate
      Foliar Arrangement Along Stem :
      Foliar Attachment to Stem :
      Foliar Shape(s) :
      Non-Palm Foliage (Oblanceolate)
      Foliar Apex / Tip :
      Foliar Base :
      Typical Foliar Area :
      Nanophyll ( 0.25cm2 - 2.25 cm2 )
      Leaf Area Index (LAI) * for Green Plot Ratio :
      4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)
  • Non-Foliar & Storage
    • Stem Type & Modification :
      Root Type :
      Underground (Fibrous Root)
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower & Plant Sexuality :
      Unisexual Flowers
      Flower Colour(s) :
      Yellow / Golden
      Flower Grouping :
      Cluster / Inflorescence
      Flower Location :
      Flowering Habit :
  • Fruit, Seed & Spore
    • Fruit Classification :
      Simple Fruit
      Fruit Type :
      Dehiscent Dry Fruit (Capsule)
The information given on this website has been compiled from reference works on medicinal plants and/or pron only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Reliance on this information is strictly at your own risk. You should always consult your physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.

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