Saturday, April 4, 2009

Horticultural Question

Recently in a new friend's home, I saw a beautiful plant standing in a large pot on the floor against a wall of her livingroom. It was about five feet tall and there were many spikes, like this single one shown below, growing straight up. "Babies" were growing at the base of each spike.

My friend didn't know the name of the plant but she'd had it for about ten years, and she knew her mother had it in her house for at least twenty years before that. (She inherited it when her mother passed away.) It wasn't near a window so doesn't require much light. She remembered her mother simply chopping off cuttings and rooting them in soil, which is what I've done with the cutting I was given.

Here's a shot of the top of the plant.

Each spike is a three-sided main stem with leaves growing out from it. It's a succulent and has nasty, little, stiff thorns growing out of the "corner" of each side. The big plant was very attractive, upright and yet full. It was such a glossy green that it almost looked artificial.

Anybody know what it is?


  1. Just checked through all the pics at a cacti website...couldn't find anything that matched. The "trunk" looks so much like a cactus, but those glossy leaves at the top really throw me!

  2. Hi, MaineCelt - Yeah, I know! I was convinced it had to be of the cacti family, too, especially with the 'thorns' but I can't find any match either. Hmmmm . . .

  3. Hey there, any of you who care to know - I got a quick and easy answer to my "Horticultural Question" from my beautiful niece in California. (She sells plants for a living so, of course, she'd know!)

    It's a Euphorbia Trigona or African Milk Tree. If you're so inclined, just Google it and find out all kinds of interesting info.

    Thanks, K!

  4. Hi Mama Pea,
    I have one of these in a pot in my basement. My dad gave it to me years ago and it was about 3 feet tall. Last summer I let it live outside on my patio and it loved that! It's a huge cactus now (about 6 feet tall) and the spines are quite sharp. I'm guessing it's called the African Milk Tree because when you break off a spine or damage the flesh of the cactus, white, milky-appearing sap flows from the damaged spot.

  5. Hi, Ruthie - The friend I got the starter from says she puts hers out on the back screened porch all summer and it usually grows about 6" over that period of time. The info I read on it says that the 'juice' or 'milk' is poisonous when ingested and can be very irritating to skin and especially eyes so take care with yours!