Coveted by bonsai collectors. Makes a nice low-growing rounded shrub/tree with a short succulent trunk max of 1.00 / 5.00 m tall (in the ground) but usually small in culture. Large potted specimens are pricey.
Scientific name: E. balsamifera Aiton
In: Hort.Kew. 2:137, 1789
Origin: Euphorbia balsamifera is native to all Canary islands Also present in West Africa, Mauritania, Senegal, Niger.
Habitat: Forms dense communities in rocky places and on less mobile dune sand (with the exception of the highly mobile sands) in the lower succulent zone up to 800 mt in altitude.
Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.
Common English Names include: Balsam spurge.
- Euphorbia rogeri N.E. Brown 1911
- Euphorbia balsamifera ssp. rogeri (N.E. Brown) Maire 1938
- Euphorbia sepium N.E. Brown 1911
- Euphorbia balsamifera ssp. sepium (N.E. Brown) Maire 1938
- Euphorbia: adenensis Deflers 1887
- Euphorbia balsamifera ssp. adenensis (Deflers) P.R.O. Bally
In: Candolea 29: 390. 1974
- Euphorbia capazii Caballero 1935
- Euphorbia balsamifera ssp. eubalsamifera Maire 1938 (Nom inval. Art. 26.1)
Coveted by bonsai collectors. Makes a nice low-growing rounded shrub/tree with a short succulent trunk max of 1,00/5,00m tall (in the ground) but usually small in culture. Large potted specimens are pricey.
Description: E. balsamifera forms intricately branched, rounded shrub of variable height from very short bushes hardly rising above the ground to small trees up to 5 m tall. They are pretty variable where leaf characters and stems development are concerned.
Stems: Thick, semisucculent, gnarling, spineless, approx 1 cm in diameter, covered in transversely elongated leaf-scars, dull pastel, grey or terracotta coloured, branching , with the base stalks becoming very thick. At the minimum injure it give out a pungent-smelling white latex.
Leaves: Up to 80 mm long x 4-8 mm wide, attractive, sessile, linear-lanceolate to long-oval shaped green to glaucous, clustered at branches tips.
Flowers: The inflorescences are terminal cymes usually reduced to a single subsessile cyathium up to 6 mm Ø on each branch which stay central above light yellowish-green pseudo-petals
Fruit: Large capsule approx 9x10 mm wide, viscid, green becoming pinkish reddish-green, shallowly lobed, glabrous or hairy, subsessile.
Seeds: Subglobose 3 x 2,8 mm wide.
- E. balsamifera ssp. balsamifera Up to 5 m tall Origin Canary island, West Africa, Mauritania, Senegal, Niger.r
- E. balsamifera ssp. adenensis More compact, up to 1 m tall leaves obovate up to 2,5 cm long. Origin: Arabian peninsula, Sudan (Red sea hills) North Somalia at an altitude ranging from 900 to1550 m.
Odontology: E. balsamifera has sap (latex) which is rather poisonous if ingested but not corrosive nether bitter like that of other Euphorbias, and widely used in odontology as traditionally antalgic treatment of acute dental pulpitis. The latex is an effective pulpal devitalizer used in dental offices.
Food: The latex is sometime reported to be drinkable like the milk of animals and boiled and thickened into a Jelly and eaten as a delicacy by the inhabitants of the Canary Islands.
Agricolture: Most of the fields in Canary islands are fenced with E. balsamifera that protects the crops from pest attacks and the soil from wind erosion hazards, The live fence is planted just before the rainy
season and is weeded and pruned during successive rainy seasons. It it also widely used to fix mobile sand dunes.
Zootechnics: The palatability of E. balsamifera makes it very appreciated by the livestock as a fodder crop.