The natural crown of thorns looks more like a rose bush on steroids than a cactus-like euphorbia,
but a euphorbia it is. The red-flowering native of Madagascar is not found in the wild in North America
(although it may be becoming naturalized in Florida). The variety here is white or cream-colored. Other cultivars are
pink, yellow, and orange, as well as red.
Identification: This climbing shrub grows to 4′ (1.2 m) tall,
spewing densely spine-covered branches in every direction. The randomly curving branches are
in search of other plants, which the shrub uses to support itself as it grows. Branches are dark
and woody, not the green cactus-like color of many euphorbias. Flowers (actually bracts—modified
leaves) are white.
Edibility: Poisonous All euphorbias can cause
dermatitis and are poisonous when ingested.