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Euphorbia abyssinica (Desert Candle)


Scientific Name

Euphorbia abyssinica J.F.Gmel.

Common Names

Desert Candle, Candelabra Spurge


Euphorbia acrurensis, Euphorbia aethiopum, Euphorbia candelabrum var. erythraeae, Euphorbia controversa, Euphorbia disclusa, Euphorbia erythraeae, Euphorbia grandis, Euphorbia neglecta, Euphorbia neutra, Euphorbia obovalifolia, Euphorbia officinarum var. kolquall, Euphorbia richardiana

Scientific Classification

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia


Euphorbia abyssinica is a succulent, tree-like Euphorbia up to 33 feet (10 m) tall and forming either large stands or growing as solitary plant. The thick, green main trunk, which becomes woody with age, supports many 5- to 8-angled, branching stems. Leaves form on young growth at the end of the branches but fall in the dry season. At intervals along the stem angles or ribs are small, rounded structures from which leaves, flowers or spines may grow. The male flowers are reduced to a single stamen and the female flowers consist of a stalked pistil with branched stigmas. The flowers are without petals, but are surrounded by noticeable yellow bracts.

Euphorbia abyssinica (Desert Candle)

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USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Euphorbias are very easy to care for. They require a little pampering to become established, but once they are, they are self-sufficient. In fact, more die from too much care and watering than from neglect. Euphorbias need well-draining soil and lots of sunlight. They are not particular about soil pH, but they cannot tolerant wet soil. Unlike most succulents, Euphorbia does not handle long periods of drought well. It may need weekly watering during the summer. Water whenever the soil is dry several inches below the surface. Water deeply, but don't let them sit in wet soil, which can cause root rot. Add some organic matter or fertilizer to the planting hole. If you are growing them in containers or your soil is poor, feed with a half-strength fertilizer monthly.

Euphorbia can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate (or even find). It is usually propagated by cuttings. This can be tricky, because of the exuding sap. Rooting hormone is recommended with Euphorbias. They tend to grow problem free, but there are a few pests and diseases to be alert for… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia


It is endemic to Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea.


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