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Euphorbia horrida Boiss.

Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Common Name: African Milk Barrel
Full Sun: 6-8h Little Water Dry Soils / Drought Woody


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Columnar
Maximum Height 1 m to 1.5 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 0.1 m to 0.5 m


Native Distribution South Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Desert / Arid
Local Conservation Status Exotic
CITES Protection True (Appendix II)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Clump-forming succulent up to 1-1.5 m tall.
Stems Erect, bluish green stem is cylindrical (75 cm tall, 10-15 cm wide) and composed of 10-20 flattened ribs which are often wavy. Each rib is armed with orange or grey, spine-like structures (4 cm long) which were originally stalks that bore the cyathia (the inflorescence), but later dried and hardened.
Flowers Like other Euphorbia species, it produces a cyathium (plural: cyathia, a tiny inflorescence that resembles a single flower, having male and female flowers surrounded by petal-like bracts). The green and yellow cyathia are produced singly along the ribs of the stem.
Cultivation This species usually does not have any disease problems, but is sometimes attacked by mealy bugs. It should be fed with a low nitrogen liquid fertiliser. This species reaches a maximum height of 1-1.5 m after 10-20 years.
Etymology This species is often known by its synonym 'Euphorbia horrida'. The horrida specific epithet means spiny.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Stems
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Rockery / Desert Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Spines/Thorns - Stem/Branch, Toxic Upon Ingestion, Irritant - Sap
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks All parts of the plant are very toxic. The sap may irritate the skin and eyes.
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks This species grows best in a well-draining mixture of loamy compost and sand.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Little Water
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Seed, Sucker

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Green, Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Inflorescence Type Cyathium

Image Repository



Master ID 31827
Species ID 6227
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 August 2021.