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Euphorbia neriifolia (Indian Spurge Tree)

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Scientific Name

Euphorbia neriifolia L.

Common Names

Common Milk Hedge, Dog's Tongue, Fleshy Spurge, Hedge Euphorbia, Holy Milk Hedge, Indian Spurge Tree, Leafed Euphorbia, Milk Bush, Milk Spurge, Oleander Spurge

Synonyms

Elaeophorbia neriifolia, Euphorbia edulis, Euphorbia ligularia, Euphorbia pentagona, Tithymalus edulis

Scientific Classification

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

Description

Euphorbia neriifolia is an erect, prickly, succulent shrub or small tree, up to 20 feet (6 m) tall, with thick stems and large persistent leaves on younger parts of the plant. Spines are greyish-brown to black and arranged such that they spiral around the stem in 5 ranks. Leaves are green, up to 12 inches (30 cm) long and up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. It is one of the monoecious species, bearing male and female flowers on the same plant. Flowers are bell-shaped, yellow-green, and reddish appear in groups of three, with the central one without stalk and growing directly from the stem.

Photo via Frank Vincentz

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Euphorbias are very easy to care for. These plants require a little pampering to become established, but once they are, they are self-sufficient. 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 tolerate 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.

These succulents can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate (or even find). They are 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.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.

Origin

Euphorbia neriifolia is native to parts of the south, central and eastern India. It is also found throughout Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malesia (except Borneo).

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