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Euphorbia antiquorum (Antique Spurge)

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Scientific Name

Euphorbia antiquorum L.

Common Names

Antique Spurge, Euphorbia of the Ancients, Fleshy Spurge, Malayan Spurge, Malayan Spurge Tree, Square Cactus, Square Milk Hedge, Square Spurge, Triangular Spurge

Synonyms

Euphorbia antiquorum var. polygona, Euphorbia arborescens, Euphorbia mayuranathanii, Tithymalus antiquorus

Scientific Classification

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

Origin

Native to southeast Asia, especially India, but can also be found in neighboring countries, such as Bangladesh, Burma, China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Description

Euphorbia antiquorum is a succulent shrub or small tree, up to 23 feet (7 m) tall, with ascending branches. Older stems are cylindrical with brownish bark. Branches are smooth, green, 3- or 4-ribbed, and up to 2.8 inches (7 cm) thick. Leaves are green, clustered at the apex, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) wide. Spines are paired, blackish, and up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) long. Cyathia are inflorescences consisting of cup-shaped clusters of modified leaves. Each cluster holds one female flower and several male flowers. They are yellowish-green to pinkish and appear all year round. Fruits are 3-lobed capsules, up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) in diameter, initially green, becoming red when ripe.

This succulent is the type species of the genus Euphorbia.

The specific epithet "antiquorum" means "of the ancients" and refers to the medicinal uses of the species in ancient times.

Euphorbia antiquorum (Antique Spurge)

Photo by Cerlin Ng

How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia antiquorum

Light: Most Euphorbias are sun lovers, but some will tolerate partial shade. Place your indoor Euphorbias on windows with southern or southeastern exposure.

Soil: Euphorbias requires well-drained soil. They even thrive in poor, dry soils. Use a commercial mixture formulated for cacti and succulents or make your own potting mix.

Hardiness: Euphorbia antiquorum can withstand temperatures as low as 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.

Watering: Succulent Euphorbias can survive drought, but do not mean that they need it. From spring to fall, water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Reduce watering in winter, give them just enough water to prevent wilting.

Fertilizing: Every Euphorbia will benefit from fertilizer. Apply a balanced fertilizer in a 10-10-10 NPK formulation, diluted to 1/4 strength once a week during the growing season.

Repotting: Euphorbias do not need to be repotted every year. When your Euphorbia is outgrowing its pot, it is time to repot the plant in a larger pot and give it a fresh potting mix.

Propagation: The easiest and fastest method of propagation for many species is by using cuttings. Euphorbias can also be grown from seeds, but they can be difficult to germinate, even hard to find.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.

Toxicity of Euphorbia antiquorum

Although Euphorbia antiquorum is harvested for local medicinal use, like all other Euphorbias, it produces a white milky sap that is toxic and can cause irritation to the skin and eye. It is best to keep the plant away from children and pets.

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