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Euphorbia tirucalli (Pencil Tree)


Scientific Name

Euphorbia tirucalli L.

Common Names

Pencil Tree, Pencil Euphorbia, Pencil Cactus, Firestick Plants, Sticks on Fire, African Milk Bush, Finger Tree, Indian Tree Spurge, Milk Bush, Milk Hedge, Naked Lady, Petroleum Plant, Rubber Euphorbia, Rubber Hedge Euphorbia


Arthrothamnus bergii, Arthrothamnus ecklonii, Arthrothamnus tirucalli, Euphorbia geayi, Euphorbia laro, Euphorbia media, Euphorbia media var. bagshawei, Euphorbia rhipsaloides, Euphorbia scoparia, Euphorbia suareziana, Euphorbia tirucalli var. rhipsaloides, Euphorbia viminalis, Tirucalia indica, Tirucalia tirucalli

Scientific Classification

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


Euphorbia tirucalli is a spineless, many-branched, succulent plant up to 16.5 feet (5 m) tall. The branches are cylindrical, smooth and glabrous-green, up to 0.31 inch (8 mm) in diameter, forming brush-like masses. The leaves are small and slender, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and up to 0.15 inch (4 mm) wide. The flowers are yellow, inconspicuous, and carried in clusters at the apex of the short branches or in the angles of branches. Fruits are tripartite capsules up to 0.47 inch ( 12 mm) in diameter.

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USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °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. 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.

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… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia


Native to Africa.

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids


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