Our plant of the month, and one which is suited to our climate, is Euphorbia ingens – Euphorbia Tree.

Plant of the Month

Euphorbia ingens – Euphorbia Tree

Euphorbias are members of the largest family in the plant world, Euphorbiaceae. The family contains 300 genus, 5000 species and 7500 varieties. Just those bearing the euphorbia name amount to some 2000 species.

These include annuals, bi-annuals, perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. There are succulents, plants which die back in winter and evergreens. Whilst most of them are extremely hardy, there are some that cannot withstand frost.

The special feature of the euphorbias is the wide range of differences found in the same family in terms of plant shapes, how they grow, whether or not they are hardy, how much water they need, etc. Most euphorbias have a milky sap, in some of them this sap is colourless.

Noble Namesake

The name euphorbia comes from the doctor Euphorbus who worked for the King of Mauritania in the 1st century AD.

The euphorbia tree is a thorny succulent native to South Africa. The tree can be found in the wild in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland. Euphorbia ingens grows straight up, putting up many trunks from the same base, without producing any side branches.

From a distance the overall shape of a mature plant resembles a hot air balloon, and the plant can grow to 10m in height.

The straight upright branches each have four edges from which grow small thorns.

These thorns grow in pairs all along the edges of the plant. In autumn and winter small yellowish flowers are produced on the edges of the plant which then turn in to three-lobed fruit.

In turn, over time, the fruit turn a blue-purple colour.

The euphorbia tree prefers a hot climate and will even survive long periods of drought.

In the wild is is found growing amongst rocks or on beaches.


The white sap found in this tree is very poisonous.

Touching it can cause skin irritation, getting in the eyes could lead to blindness and swallowing it, by either humans or animals, can result in serious illness.

However, in small controlled doses it is used as a cure for constipation and in the treatment of ulcers. The wood of the main trunk of this tree is light and sturdy and used in making doors and for parts of wooden boats.

The flowers of this plant attract butterflies, bees and other insects.

The fruits are eaten by birds and other creatures.

In its native countries birds often nest in this tree, creating nests in sections of the main trunk which have died.

If you are looking for a large tree for a cactus or rock garden, the euphorbia tree is ideal. It needs little water so is low maintenance.

However, if the temperature in your garden could fall below -3 the plant should not be used as it cannot withstand temperatures lower than this.

Animals steer clear of the plant because of its poisonous sap, hence they do not damage the plant.

Particularly in dry areas this tree, with its green branches, yellow flowers and purple-blue fruits, can be a real focal point in your garden.

However, don’t forget the poisonous sap and don’t plant the euphorbia tree if there are children around

The Palm Centre, Koycegeiz

For a wide range of special plants visit the areas best nursery, The Palm Centre at Köyceğiz.

It is open daily between 1st June – 31st October but you can visit at any other time by appointment.

Access to plant sales is free but a fee is payable to look around the extensive nursery.

Just ring or email (English is spoken):

E-mail: : palmiyemerkezi@ttnet.net.tr palmiyemerkezi@ttnet.net.tr

Tel : +90 252 262 28 92

Fax : +90 252 262 51 61

Website : http://www.palmiyemerkezi.com