Euphorbia Species, African Milk Tree, Candelabra Cactus, African Milk Bush, High Chaparral

Euphorbia trigona

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)
Species: trigona (try-GOH-nuh) (Info)


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Foliage Color:



6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Casa Grande, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona(2 reports)

Tucson, Arizona

Benton, Arkansas

Castro Valley, California

Clayton, California

Encino, California

Hayward, California

Long Beach, California

Los Angeles, California

Pittsburg, California

Quartz Hill, California

Reseda, California

San Diego, California

Susanville, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Vista, California(9 reports)

Penrose, Colorado

Melbourne Beach, Florida

Milton, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Forsyth, Georgia

Lake In The Hills, Illinois

Kenner, Louisiana

Pikesville, Maryland

Salem, Missouri

Verona, Missouri

Haddonfield, New Jersey

Hoboken, New Jersey

Zanesville, Ohio

Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Clarksville, Tennessee

Germantown, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Desoto, Texas

Houston, Texas

Leander, Texas

Rowlett, Texas

Bellevue, Washington

Seattle, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 28, 2017, Don_in_CT from W Hartford, CT wrote:

To propagate at our university greenhouse, I use secateurs to cut a long section of E. trigona into 5 to 10 inch long sections. I don't wear gloves, but I do avoid the copious sap (a general rule: anything with milky white sap is likely to be poisonous and an irritant, and this is especially true with Euphorbias). I then snip all the edges off at a slight angle--about one leaf on each edge (typically, the plant is 3 or 4 sided). Doing this makes the upper end less unsightly, and I figure it makes the lower end less prone to rot. Then I set the sections aside for a few days or longer to dry and callous over. After that, I pot them up in small 3 inch wide plastic pots in Pro-Mix BX potting soil and keep them damp but not wet in a warm sunny location. Bottom heat is helpful. If the sections h... read more


On Aug 6, 2015, lydarose from Tampa, FL wrote:

I am a freak for euphorbias. Even though this one is fairly common I love it. I comes in green, variegated and purple that I know of. I love the form. Very easy to grow and propagate.


On May 17, 2015, myself100 from Saint Albans, NY wrote:

This plant is dangerous. It looks like a nice cactus but other persons might not know the danger and get poisoned like I did.

I rubbed the sap on my wrists thinking it was good and later on my eyes were in so much pain and I couldn't see ( I might have gotten some in by rubbing my eyes)

I am getting rid of this plant right away.


On Feb 3, 2015, Nate1the1great1 from Penrose, CO wrote:

I got a 8 inch cutting a year ago and it has grown into a monter towering over 2 feet with 7 arms i have mine in a large sized pot and just stopped growing this week i LOVE this (cactus)


On Jun 29, 2014, lefty58 from Rockwall, TX wrote:

A great plant and low maintenance as indicated on this forum. My question is when should you re-pot? I am concerned about my pot becoming too small as it grows taller.


On Feb 27, 2014, WillyB23 from Haskell, AR wrote:

This is a wonderful and hardy plant. I got two broken arms from a friend about two years ago that were 6 or so inches tall. Now they are around two feet in regular sun with a weekly splash of water. Don't taste the sap btw. Its bitter and then things are not good!! I grow tabasco and habanero peppers in Arkansas but this stuff will numb your nose after it sets you on fire. Three hours later I could smell again. Not a pleasant experience. And that was just a drop on my finger. It will grow from a slice off the side or an arm stuck in a pot. My friends was her Aunts and 7 ft tall. It was about 30 or so years old but HUGE at the main stem. It was in a 30" outdoor pot and came in in the winter. Yeah that was fun. Pokey suckers


On Jan 4, 2014, MisterETrigona from Angier, NC wrote:

Euphorbia trigona ... poisonous, not in a strict sense of the word. Potentially deadly irritant ... YES.

The white sap bleeds from any cuts on the plant, and I "accidentally" licked my finger and ingested about 1 drop. In ten minutes my throat was sore, like a bad case of streptococcus, then my tongue dried out and my lips burned. I felt relief when drinking cool water. That lasted about three hours, but the next day the skin on my whole body felt sensitive. I had decided which hospital to go to, and probably should have, but I did not.

Now I have a Skull And Crossbones symbol posted on my 8-foot E. trigona.


On Apr 17, 2013, mrdiesel from Torrington, CT wrote:

two years ago my stepdaughter gave me an 8" cutting of her "cactus".. which turned out to be E.Trigona. I grow a variety of plants and didn't have this one. I potted it in regular potting soil/perlite mix, watered it and put it in by the French doors to our deck. gets plenty of light but not direct. in about three weeks I started to see new green growth at the top of the cutting. I would turn the plant every week so that it didn't develop a lean. I water it once a week in the summer and about every three weeks to a month in the fall and winter. right now the plant is about three an a half feet tall has 6 vertical arms growing off the main stalk. when I was given this plant as a cutting, i didn't wait a couple days for the cutting to callous over, I just planted and watered. it's a great e... read more


On Aug 28, 2012, atten from Salem, MO wrote:

I've had this plant about 25 years. It was about 7 inches tall when I got it. It's now about about six foot tall and has outgrown my house! I've always put it outside in summer but it's gotten too heavy for my husband & I (senior citizens) to move so I've started new plants for me and friends and family, but I hate to kill it so would like to find a new home for it.


On Jun 8, 2012, Hacienda1712 from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

I was told sunlight would burn this plant, it's been kept indoors with almost no sun for 6 years now and looks great, grown up from 4' to 6' now. Some branches have spread and hit the floor, I just tied them up together for a while and they're now growing straight up again.
I'll try giving it some more sun, maybe break off a leg and plant outdoors to see what happens...


On Sep 5, 2011, azhusker from Tucson, AZ wrote:

My Euphobia trigona is about six feet tall and all of a sudden is bent over, almost touching the floor. What is the cause? under watering? over watering? to small a pot? I have had this plant for about 10 years.


On Jul 10, 2011, Parrott1 from Lake in the Hills, IL wrote:

I have had my Euphorbia trigona since 1981. I received it when I was in college. Over the last 6 months the plant and all its arms are turning from green to almost like wood. Can anyone tell me what is going on? I have not seen any new growth this year.


On Mar 24, 2011, calf from Leander, TX wrote:

Friends in Washington State broke off a piece of the AMT growing in their house for me to bring to Texas. The initial piece was about six inches tall. Once back in Texas, I stuck it in good potting soil and essentially forgot about it except for when I watered it every other week.

Four years later, it is approaching eight feet tall, has numerous side shoots and resembles a Saquaro cactus!

I have repotted it several times (wrap it in a towel unless you want to donate blood because it is sharp!). It doesn't appear to be bothered by the process - just keeps getting bigger!

Last spring, I decided to try it outside - east side of the house under the porch roof. In the heat of a Texas summer, it was watered every day. It grew like a weed and got ... read more


On Dec 5, 2010, Alexwtf_93 from Susanville, CA wrote:

this is one of my very favorite houseplants, it grows very quickly indoors, its usually under flourescent lights, or filtered morning sunlight, for the 3 years i've had it its added about 2 feet to its height, its rather large so i water it a couple times a week and feed it once in a while, just be careful while moving it as it can be a fragile plant and break easily.. but will grow back fast


On Mar 21, 2010, Catamarca from El Paso, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant cannot take direct El Paso desert sun. My specimen, now about two years old, has numerous white spots along the stems as evidence! I keep it out of direct light now and the new growth is fine.


On Feb 22, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

Euphorbia trigona is not hardy; temperatures even two or three degrees below freezing will kill it. Still, the red plant they show in a normal cool bay area winter is striking. Fast growing small Euphorbia and easy care. Protect from slugs and freezing temps.


On Jan 31, 2007, cactuskat from Yuma, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have had my plant for about 15 years and just found out the name of it, thanks to Dave's Garden. My plant is really small for its age. I have it in potting soil and a medium size pot,but I think it is time to transplant it.


On Nov 30, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Upright branching habit to 1.8 meters. Can be pruned. Used for fences in tropical countries. Makes a great container plant.


On Nov 12, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

Like all Euphorbia HANDLE WITH CARE, the latex/sap is dangerous and can cause skin rash, itching and general discomfort.


On Jul 11, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

Its not a Cactus (from the Cactaceae family). However, ecologically, it occupies the same eco-systems as cacti, since there are no cacti in Africa.

I have a purple variety of this plant. It's a tough one. You don't need to water it at all, just let the rain do its job. As for sun exposure, don't worry too much about it either; my plant receives 4 hours of sunlight per day, and I've seen larger plants under full sun. You better look for aphids that may infest this species sometimes.

The flowers are insignificant, according to foreign descriptions, since there are no registries about it blooming here in Brazil, although it's very well adapted to the climate.

The cactus-like branches (with tiny spines and small leaves on the tip) start from the si... read more


On Jul 11, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

A cactus from tropical western Africa, commonly known as the African Milk Tree. Mine was store-bought at 6" tall; one year later, it is 3 ft tall and 2 ft wide.

Strictly adhering to zero/low maintenance policy, it is left in the outdoors - no pampering at all.