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Christ Thorn Euphorbia milii

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
yoo-FOR-bee-ah MIL-ee-eye
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Euphorbia milii is a woody, succulent shrub with bright green leaves and greenish flowers enclosed within long-lasting and bright bracts of red or yellow. The plant has thick, black thorns and its historic presence in the Middle East led to the belief by some that the stems of this plant had been used in Christ's crown of thorns, hence the common name. In its country of origin (Madagascar) the plant will grow to 5 or 6 feet tall; however, in the United States, it typically grows to 3 feet, or 2 feet when grown as a houseplant.

Euphorbia milii does best in dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Because it does not like wet, cold soils or temperatures below 35 degrees F., it may prefer a sunny indoor location in soil-based potting mix. If grown outside in hot summer climates, provide the plant with midday shade and moderate moisture for better flower bloom. You can propagate the plant from tip cuttings; however, because the resulting white latex sap causes a mild poisonous reaction when in contact with skin or eyes, wear gloves when working with this plant.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Flowers are sticky, showy paired bracts in cymes
  • Stems are gray with many long, sharp, 1" spines
  • Leaves are non-succulent, spatulate

Deciduous herbaceous perennial shrub to 3', loose, spiny and irregularly shaped.

Sticky, showy, paired-bract flowers on gray stems with long spines will help identify this plant; milky latex sap is irritating to many people; cyclical leaf drop is normal, but messy - preceeds resting season(usually winter); long, dangerous spines limit use-children and pets!; used as specimen plant for interiors with high light or as annual outdoor plant. 

Prefers high light, dry soil and low relative humidity; propagated from cuttings-let sap dry before placing in medium; no serious pests/diseases.

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#thorns#evergreen#poisonous#full sun#houseplant#container plant#cpp#well-drained soil#fantz
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#thorns#evergreen#poisonous#full sun#houseplant#container plant#cpp#well-drained soil#fantz
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Euphorbia
    Species:
    milii
    Family:
    Euphorbiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Madagascar
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to rabbits and deer. Tolerates drought and air pollution.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Multi-stemmed
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    Bracts
    Flower Description:
    Flower bloom time depends on the plant location. When grown in tropical or sub-tropical conditions, blooms occur throughout the year, but especially in Spring and Summer. In warm southern climates, blooms usually occur in winter and spring. When grown as a houseplant, it will bloom from late winter well into fall. A cyme, axillary, on long peduncles up to 2". (several) are miniscule unisexual cyathia, enclosed in a 5-lobed involucre bearing glands and subtended by a showy pair of bracts; bracts ovate, red, salmon or yellow, ca .8 cm.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Shape:
    Obovate
    Spatulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Evergreen with few, smooth-margined leaves with wedge-shaped bases, produced on new stem growth. Simple, spatulate, mucronate, attenuate, entire, glabrous, to 2".
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Sharp black thorns, that can grow to a 1/2" long), cover the plant's branches and stems. Stems also contain a milky latex of low toxicity. Spiny, grey, irregularly branched, 5-6 sided; spines to 1".
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Poisonous to Humans
    Spines/Thorns
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN. SKIN IRRITATION MINOR OR LASTING ONLY FOR A FEW MINUTES. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea when ingested; redness, swelling, blisters after some delay following contact with skin.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Diterpene esters in milky latex
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems