With slouching branches
The skin breaks to flower pods
And the willow weeps
Common Names: Christ-plant, Christ-thorn, Crown-of-thorns, Tie hai tang
Botanical Name: Euphorbia milii Des Moul
Family: Euphorbiaceae (the spurge family)
The common name refers to the legend that the Crown of thorns that was worn by Christ at his Crucifixion was made from the stems of this plant. Substantial evidence exists that the species, native to Madagascar, was taken to the Middle East before the time of Christ, however, that the legend is apocryphal. With the amount of tacky sap it exudes, constructing a crown of thorns from this plant would be a very messy affair!
Crown of Thorns is a very spiny, semi-succulent plant. It has tough, leathery, bright green leaves on slender fleshy stems, but the leaves often drop off on all but the youngest stems, and the plant is sometimes completely leafless. The plant is well-named, as it is armed with vicious black thorns, up to 3 cm long, all over the stems and branches. It bears tiny yellow-green flowers surrounded by two showy bright red bracts. Like the other members of the genus, the leaves are obovate, up to 8 or 9 cm long and about 3 cm broad. All euphorbia have a three-lobed fruit that splits apart when ripe, but Euphorbis milii rarely fruits in cultivation. Several named cultivars and varieties are noteworthy for their different coloured bracts (pink, yellow, white, orange). This species has also been hybridized with other euphorbia, resulting in hybrids with larger and flashier bracts.
Shrub that can exceed 15 cm tall whose stems end in a terminal rosette of leaves. Their inflorescences are stalked with several flowers blood red. It differs from similar species as the bracts, large, 1 to 2 cm in length, are fused two-thirds of its length. The floral glands are toothed. The shrub spews densely spine-covered branches in every direction. The randomly curving branches are in search of other plants, which the shrub uses to support itself as it grows. Branches are dark and woody, not the green cactus-like color of many euphorbias. Flowers (actually bracts) are scarlet red. Cultivars of this plant are popular as house plants, with flowers (really modified leaves) that are pink, yellow, white, and orange, as well as red.
Propagation is by cuttings taken in spring or summer. The cut end should be dipped in warm water for a few minutes to stop the bleeding, and then allowed to dry for a few days and form a callus before planting in barely damp sand. The plant is often grown in pots on patios, but it is also a good plant for rock gardens and borders. It will also make a good (and impenetrable) hedge. When grown in close proximity to other plants, it will sometimes scramble over them, helped by its thorns.
Seems to occur in a variety of bush and forest habitats, but always on rocks (usually granite formations).
This is a widely grown ornamental species that is found in gardens all over the world. The species comprises eleven described varieties, but is in urgent need of taxonomic revision. Many of the plants in cultivation are incorrectly identified. Most of the varieties described are from very poorly known or even unknown locations. The ones that are known, tend to be very restricted and are often under threat due to loss and degradation of the habitat. fully resolved and full field surveys have been conducted, it is best to consider.
An extremely diverse-looking genus of mostly tropical and subtropical succulent plants. For Euphorbus, corpulent Greek physician of Juba II, King of Mauretania. Literally, “euphorbia” means “well-fed”
Native fo Madagascar: Fort Dauphin area; 20 km south of Betroka; mountains near Ihosy, possibly between Antsirabe and Fianarantsoa; possibly north of Antananarivo, near Maevatanana; on the High Plateau near Imerina; Zombitse forest (Sakaraha) and at Le Table mountain near Tulear. This plant varieties are also found in countries such as Belize (Mesoamerica), Ecuador (South America), Honduras (Mesoamerica), Madagascar (Africa & Madagascar), Peru (South America), China (Asia), Colombia (South America), India, Pakistan.
Euphorbia milii oozes milky sap from bruised or broken stems and leaves.
All parts of the plant seem to be poisonous if ingested, and the sap can irritate some skins. Like other Euphorbia, Euphorbia milii has a latex (milky sap) very irritating and caustic . Avoid contact with skin and eyes. Symptoms of ingestion are burning abdominal pain, sore mouth and throat, vomiting. Poison containing 5-deoxyingenol. The sap is used as a folk remedy in Brazil for the removal of warts.