Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

EUPHORBIA virosa

Image of Euphorbia virosa

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Euphorbiaceae

Botanical Name

EUPHORBIA virosa

Plant Common Name

Gifboom, Poisoned Tree

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Wickedly barbed and packed with caustic sap, this uncommon species may be the most ferocious Euphorbia of all. It hails from the heart of southern Africa, inhabiting an enormous desert range from the Orange River to deep in southern Angola. Well known by Bushmen tribes, the white latex sap of the plant is used to poison the tips of their tiny arrows. The plant produces a single many-ribbed gray green stem that branches into short arms. In the wild it can also become a clump of basal branches with no stem, probably the result of aggressive browsing. The sharp edges of each rib are lined with pairs of dagger sharp thorns to fend off hungry wildlife in this drought prone region.

This plant blooms in summer but sparsely if at all in cultivation. In early summer each thorn on the upper part of the plant bears one individual yellow bloom, called a cyme. Due to the lack of rainfall in its climate of origin, this plant is highly sensitive to excessive or untimely water in the root zone. Too much and the roots quickly rot causing these top-heavy succulents to lean or fall over. Though it often grows in full sun in habitat, this plant is highly tolerant of bright shade, which limits further the already slow growth. This may be the most dangerous plant of the white latex euphorbias because a minor stick or even brushing against the thorns can cause rash or swelling. It is best to grow them well away from traffic areas and swimming pools, and not at all around children or pets. Heavy protective gloves should be worn when moving or handling this plant.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    13 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-9' / 0.9m - 2.7m

  • Width

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Southern Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Very Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Copper

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter) Modifier

    Striped/Striated

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No