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Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’

Pencil tree, milkbush, milk bush, finger tree, sticks of fire,

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”

About plant names...

Pencil tree is a native of northeastern, central and southern Africa. It is also found in China, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines. It is not native to North America, but has become naturalized in some areas. This cultivar of Euphorbia tirucalli L. has red tips.

Identification: Branches are smooth, cylindrical, green, about the diameter of a pencil. Branch tips are orange, red, or pink. Plants are up to 20′ (6.1 m) high. There are no spines. Leaves are small, about ½″ (1.3 cm) long and less than ⅛″ (3.2 mm) wide. They fall off early, so usually the stems appear naked. Flowers are pale yellow and inconspicuous.

Edibility: Poisonous Skull & Crossbones The milky sap that oozes from any broken part of this plant causes dermatitis and severe pain in some. It can cause extreme pain and induce temporary blindness, lasting several days, if it comes in contact with the eyes. If you get any in your eyes, flush them with water for at least 15 minutes, then seek immediate medical attention. Deaths have been recorded from ingestion.

Online References:

The South African National Biodiversity Institute's web site, plantzafrica.com


Chris A. Martin's site at Arizona State University

in Paghat's Garden

The JC Raulston Arboretum


Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’ description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Euphorbia tirucalli (pencil tree, milkbush, milk bush, finger tree, sticks of fire, )

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, Cali­fornia

Euphorbia tirucalli (pencil tree, milkbush, milk bush, finger tree, sticks of fire, )

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