Kenya Natural History Guide >>> Plants >>> Euphorbiaceae >>> Crown-of-Thorns


Euphorbia milii

Crown-of-Thorns, Euphorbia milii,  Kenya; photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed as a landscape plant near Eldoret, Kenya, Africa. January 2012.

ARMED. The white-gray stems are set with long, straight thorns.

FLOWERS: What appears to be bright red, two-lipped flowers are in fact inflorescences of several small flowers subtended by red, petal-like bracts. These pseudo-flowers are about 1 cm broad - even broader in some cultivars.

SHRUB-VINE: The slender woody stems can clamber over other plants vine-like with the spines helping to secure the hold. Stems can reach several meters in length, but tend to drape downwards.

LEAVES: Smooth, oblong to lance-shaped leaves are dark green and sometimes tinged with red. Breaks ooze milky sap.

RANGE: This plant is native to Madagascar but has been widely propagated to tropical areas everywhere. It is tolerant of drought and lightly saline/alkaline soils.

FRUIT: Each fruit capsule has three compartments containing three seeds.

Euphorbiaceae -- Spurge Family

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Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 6 September 2012