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Euphorbia erythraea forma variegata
(Syn: Euphorbia candelabrum "variegata")


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Euphorbia Erythraea forma variegata
Where a potted plant with a strong sculptural quality is required this Euphorbia is the right one. With its cream, yellow and pale-green variegated stems it makes a wonderful indoors plant!

Description: Euphorbia candelabrum (erythraea) is a typical representative of large, tree-like Euphorbias that can grow up to 10 (or more) m tall (with a short trunk up to 90 cm in diameter), it is superficially similar to some new world Cacti (e.g. Cereus peruvianus) . The upright inverted umbrella shape ( broadly obconical crown) of this plant make it looks like a a branched organ-pipe or a candelabra (hence the name).
Stem: Stem stout, upright growing, cactus-like, slightly constricted at irregular intervals into segments, one trunk may produce more than150 branches as thick as a man's leg. They are deep green with a clean and smooth epidermis.
Ribs: Thick, undulate, 3-8 angled (but usually four-winged), dark-green, wavy when only in seedlings.
Spines: Paired, horn shaped, (may be absent in older plants)
Leaves: In the right climate (wet and warm at the same time) it will produce simple lancelate leaves near the top of each branch. These leaves are much larger and more prominent in the green form than in the variegated/yellow forms. On the seedling they are up to 40 mm long and 7 mm wide, but in the young shoots they are smaller.
Flowers: Yellow-green, in small clusters fo 3-6 above the pair of spines, fleshy, with 5 glands. Female flowers carry a three part pistil over a three part ovary, producing three or sometimes more seeds.
Fruit: green, 2-3 loculed, pea sized.

Remarks: Itís one of the more poisonous spurges. The latex which is very bitter and acrid contains diterpenes and is considered highly toxic.


This is a very showy variegated plant which grows arms over time. the colours vary with green, cream and white. Plant edges are wavy with short, brown, cow-horn spines.



Family: Euphorbiaceae

Euphorbia erythraea Hemsl., 1894

Accepted scientific name:  Euphorbia candelabrum trem. ex Kotschy
In: Taxon 30(2):483-485 1857

Common English Names include: Ghost Euphorbia. Variegated Candelabra Spurge.

OriginEuphorbia candelabrum (erythraea) is widely distributed from southern Africa to aeastern africa, it is nowadays cultivated all over the world.

Habitat: Rockier areas from planes to steep hillsides, savannah grasslands, thorny bush-lands, this species often forms forests that dominate hillsides, sometimes forming pure stands, often around churches; locally abundant or common.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.


  • Euphorbia erythraeae (Berger) N.E.Br. 1912.
  • Euphorbia candelabrum var. bilocularis (N.E. Br.) S. Carter, 1987.
  • Euphorbia candelabrum var. candelabrum
  • Euphorbia candelabrum var. erythraeae Berger
  • Euphorbia abyssinica J.F.Gmel.A

Euphorbia candelabrum (which according to some authors, is synonymous with Euphorbia ingens, while other consider the two plants as distinct species)  Euphorbia candelabrum (erythraea) is the classic candelabrum tree of East Africa. With its widespread occurrence this plant is in some ways the iconic Euphorbia of the African continent.



Cultivation: It is an easy species to grow that is suited for any well drained soil in full sun. But young plant are happy growing indoors, where they can easily reach the ceiling. Give the plant an airy growing medium which mainly consists of non organic material such us clay, pumice, lava grit, and only a little peat or leaf-mould. Water regularly during the active growing season from March to September. No water should ever be allowed to stand around the roots. Keep almost completely dry in winter. It is a moderately fast grower, and will quickly become large landscape masterpieces in just 3-5 years. Only downside is from strong winds, the columns often smash into each other, causing permanent scarring... best to plant in such a location where winds are not a big issue. If plant becomes very red, this is a sign that the roots have not developed properly. It is a relatively fast growing and long lived plant and once established, it will be content in its position and with its soil for years. It can tolerate moderate shade, and a plant that has been growing in shade should be slowly hardened off before placing it in full sun as the plant will be severely scorched if moved too suddenly from shade into sun. Like quite small pots, repot in very later winter, early spring. Can be pruned for shape and branching. Frost tender, frost free zones only.

Propagation:  It is easy to propagate by cuttings in late siring to summer,  just take a cutting of the plant let it dry for 1 or 2 weeks and stuff it in the ground (preferably dry, loose, extremely well draining soil).

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Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Encyclopaedia of Succulents. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.