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Euphorbia lactea f. monstrose

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”
SpecieslacteaMilky or milk-white

About plant names...

This is a “monstrose” variety of a cactus-like Euphorbia that is native to Asia, especially India. If “monstrose” sounds like a horrifying, twisted mutation, that’s exactly what it is. Well, except that it occurs naturally, and produces growth that many people find appealing. Plants normally have growth points—locations with actively dividing cells where new growth occurs—typically at the ends of branches. But if the growth points occur randomly all over the plant surface, new growth is disorderly, producing rather odd results called monstrose forms. (There are also cristate (crested) forms, where growth occurs in a line, producing fanlike or crested shapes, and the normal form.)

Identification: Plants are shrubs, to 6½' (2 m) tall, creating irregular, folded forms with reddish edges that have inconspicuous, nearly invisible leaves.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones Like other euphorbias, these contain a poisonous milky latex. They can cause nausea and vomiting if eaten, severe eye irritation and temporary blindness, and dermatitis.

Online References:

Euphorbia lactea on CACTUSPEDIA

Euphorbia lactea on Wikipedia

Euphorbia lactea f. cristata (crested form) at Top Tropicals

Euphorbia lactea on plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Euphorbia lactea on the USDA Plants Database

Euphorbia lactea on www.botanical-dermatology-database.info

Euphorbia lactea at HEAR: the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project


Euphorbia lactea f. monstrose description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Euphorbia lactea

The label says Euphorbia monstrosus, but I think this is the monstose form of E. lactea · 4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Mary­land
≈ 23 × 20" (59 × 50 cm) ID is uncertain

Euphorbia lactea

7/15/2011 · Susan and Raimond’s

Euphorbia lactea

12/3/2011 · Susan and Raimond’s, Phoenix, Mary­land
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm)