Botanical name: Euphorbia mauritanica Family: Euphorbiaceae (Castor family)
Synonyms: Euphorbia paxiana, Euphorbia melanosticta
Pencil Milkbush is a tall fleshy shrub with bright yellow flowers eminently suitable for a rock garden. The species name pertains to the Mauri tribe (after which the Moors were named) of the ancient country of Mauretania in North Africa. It is a spineless, much-branched fleshy shrub, about 1.5 m tall, with branches arising from a thick root stock. Branches are yellowish green, pencil-thin, cylindrical and smooth, with alternate leaf scars. This plant produces yellow flowers (technically cyathia) that are in a compact group at the end of each young branch. When the plant is cut, it produces milky sap. It is reputed to be poisonous. Bushmen use the latex (sap) solely for its cohesive properties. Some people believe the latex contains a 'virulent resin' which makes the plant useless as a livestock food. Indeed, this euphorbia has been suspected of causing death in sheep. Pencil Milkbush is native to Africa. Flowering: August-October.
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