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Euphorbia trigona (African Milk Tree)


Scientific Name

Euphorbia trigona Mill.

Common Names

African Milk Tree, High Chaparall, Cathedral Cactus, Abyssinian Euphorbia


Euphorbia hermentiana

Scientific Classification

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


Euphorbia trigona is a succulent perennial, up to 9 feet (2.7 m) tall, with an upright stem that is branched into 3 or 4 sides. The stem is dark green with V-shaped, light green patterns. The up to 0.2 inch (5 mm) long thorns are placed in pairs of 2 on the stem's ridges. The drop shaped leafs grows from between the 2 thorns on each ridge. The flowers are white or a combination of white and light yellow. They appear in spring and summer, but potted plant may not flower at all.


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. 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.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.


Euphorbia trigona is native to west Africa.

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids


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