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Euphorbia candelabrum Kotschy

Euphorbia, candelabra tree

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderMalpighialesA broad group encompassing 16,000 species
FamilyEuphorbiaceaeEuphorbia or spurge family
GenusEuphorbiaAn extremely diverse-looking genus of mostly tropical and subtropical succulent plants. For Euphorbus, corpulent Greek physician of Juba II, King of Mauretania. Literally, “euphorbia” means “well-fed”
SpeciescandelabrumLike a branched candlestick

About plant names...

This candelabra-shaped euphorbia is native to southern and eastern Africa. It is not found in North America.

Identification: The upper parts of this cactus-like euphorbia, which can reach 33′ (10 m) in height, branch repeatedly into a shape that is sometimes reminiscent of candelabras. The dark brown ridges are called "chocolate drop" ridges. A single trunk may produce as many as 150 thick branches. There are usually 4 ribs, but 3-8. Dark brown spines occur in pairs, angled away from each other but not completely opposite, looking like horns. Sometimes small, narrow leaves appear near the tops, and they may be green, green and white, or yellowish. Flowers are yellow-green, in clusters of 3-6 above the spine pairs. Fruits are green, and only the size of peas.

Euphorbia candelabrum (euphorbia, candelabra tree)

This photo, by Haplochromis, captures the reason for the name.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones Most euphorbias contain a thick milky "latex" that is poisonous when ingested or even on contact with the skin. This euphorbia is more toxic than most.

Online References:

Cactus Art: the World of Cacti & Succulents


Wikimedia Commons

Forestry Images


Euphorbia candelabrum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Euphorbia candelabrum (euphorbia, candelabra tree)

2/26/2010 · San Diego Zoo, San Diego, Cali­fornia · ≈ 2½ × 4′ (87 × 130 cm)

Euphorbia candelabrum (euphorbia, candelabra tree)

2/16/2007 · San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego, Cali­fornia

Euphorbia candelabrum (euphorbia, candelabra tree)

2/26/2010 · San Diego Zoo, San Diego, Cali­fornia