Harriette Johanson

Harriette Johanson

Modified & Updated: 11 Oct 2023

Source: Plantophiles.com

The African Milk Tree, scientifically known as Euphorbia trigona, is a fascinating succulent plant native to the arid regions of Africa. This plant, with its unique appearance and intriguing characteristics, has captured the attention of plant enthusiasts and collectors around the world.

With its distinctive shape resembling a candelabra, the African Milk Tree stands tall with multiple upright branches that are covered in sharp spines. Its green stem features a pattern of triangular grooves, giving it the name trigona, meaning “three angles.

But what makes the African Milk Tree truly captivating are the remarkable facts that revolve around its growth habits, adaptability, and symbolic significance in African cultures. In this article, we will explore 11 fascinating facts about the African Milk Tree that will leave you astounded and eager to learn more about this incredible plant.

Table of Contents

Impressive Size and Shape

The African Milk Tree is known for its striking appearance, with tall, columnar stems that grow in a triangular pattern. These stems can reach heights of up to six feet, making it an impressive addition to any plant collection.

Thorny Defense Mechanism

The stems of the African Milk Tree are adorned with sharp thorns, serving as a defense mechanism against potential predators. These thorns not only protect the plant from grazing animals but also act as an adaptation to minimize water loss.

Milky Sap

One of the most distinctive features of the African Milk Tree is its milky sap, which is toxic and can cause skin irritation. This sap serves as a defense mechanism against herbivores, ensuring the plant’s survival in harsh environments.

Drought Tolerant

As a succulent, the African Milk Tree has adapted to thrive in arid conditions. It has the ability to store water in its stems, allowing it to survive extended periods of drought. This makes it a low-maintenance plant suitable for arid or desert-like environments.

Vibrant Green Color

The African Milk Tree displays a vibrant green color in its stems, which adds a touch of vibrancy to any space. This coloration is a result of the plant’s photosynthetic pigments, allowing it to harness sunlight and convert it into energy.

Easy to Propagate

The African Milk Tree is relatively easy to propagate, making it a great choice for plant enthusiasts who wish to expand their collection. It can be propagated through stem cuttings, which can be rooted in well-draining soil and kept in a warm, bright location.

Long Lifespan

The African Milk Tree has a long lifespan, with some specimens living for several decades. With proper care and maintenance, this plant can be enjoyed for many years, becoming a cherished part of any indoor or outdoor garden.

Indoors or Outdoors

The African Milk Tree can be grown both indoors and outdoors, making it a versatile choice for plant enthusiasts. When grown indoors, it thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. Outdoors, it enjoys full sun exposure but should be protected from extreme temperatures and frost.

Medicinal Uses

In traditional medicine, certain parts of the African Milk Tree are used for various purposes. For example, the sap is believed to have antimicrobial properties, and the leaves are used topically to treat skin conditions such as burns and cuts.

Symbolic Meaning

In some cultures, the African Milk Tree holds symbolic meanings. It is associated with resilience, adaptability, and strength in the face of adversity. Having this plant in your home or garden is believed to bring positivity and good luck.

Unique Form and Texture

The African Milk Tree has a visually striking form and texture that adds an element of interest to any space. Its architectural shape, combined with the texture of its thorny stems, makes it a captivating focal point in any plant arrangement.

So there you have it: 11 fascinating facts about the African Milk Tree. Whether you are a succulent enthusiast or simply appreciate unique and resilient plants, the African Milk Tree is a remarkable addition to any collection. Embrace its beauty and enjoy the benefits this fascinating plant has to offer.


In conclusion, the African Milk Tree is a fascinating plant with numerous unique characteristics. Its ability to adapt to harsh environments, coupled with its intriguing growth patterns and medicinal properties, make it a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardens. Whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or just starting your green thumb journey, the African Milk Tree is definitely a species worth exploring.


Q: How do I care for an African Milk Tree?

A: African Milk Trees require well-draining soil, plenty of sunlight, and occasional watering. It’s important to let the soil dry out between waterings to prevent root rot. They can also benefit from the occasional fertilization during the growing season.

Q: Are African Milk Trees toxic to pets?

A: Yes, African Milk Trees are toxic to pets. They contain a sap that can cause skin irritation, and if ingested, it can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. It’s important to keep pets away from this plant to ensure their safety.

Q: How tall can an African Milk Tree grow?

A: African Milk Trees can reach heights of up to 20 feet or more in their native habitats. However, when grown indoors, they generally stay smaller, ranging between 4 to 6 feet tall.

Q: Can I propagate an African Milk Tree?

A: Yes, African Milk Trees can be propagated through stem cuttings. Simply take a cutting from the plant, allow it to dry out for a few days, and then plant it in well-draining soil. It’s best to propagate during the warm summer months.

Q: Does the African Milk Tree bloom?

A: Yes, the African Milk Tree can produce small white or pink flowers during the spring and summer months. While the blooms are not particularly showy, they add a touch of beauty to the plant.