Pencil Tree   
Foto info
Pencil Tree
aturalized Photo: Medha Rao
Common name: Pencil Tree, Firestick Plants, Indian Tree Spurge, Naked Lady, Pencil Tree, Pencil Cactus, Sticks on Fire • Hindi: angli thor, anglithor, barki-sehund, barki-thohar • Kannada: bonta-kalli, bontakalli, bontekalli • Malayalam: guda, kalli, kateruma • Marathi: sher-kandvel शेर-कांडवेल • Sanskrit: सप्तला saptala, सातला satala • Tamil: cakkalavi, catukalavi, kalli • Telugu: cemudu, chemadu, chemudu
Botanical name: Euphorbia tirucalli    Family: Euphorbiaceae (Castor family)
Synonyms: Euphorbia media, Tirucalia indica, Euphorbia scoparia

Pencil tree is a plant that grows with single or multiple trunks which support a tangle of light green, pencil thick, succulent branches with almost no leaves. Pencil tree can reach a height of 6-9 m with a 2-3 m spread. The main trunk and branches are woody and brownish, but the younger branches are green and cylindrical, looking like lot of pencils. Leaves are tiny and are shed early. What is usually called the flower is really a group of petal-like bracts (modified leaves). The true flowers, which are centered within the bracts, are inconspicuous. All parts of Euphorbia tirucalli ooze a milky sap when damaged or cut. Contact with this sap may cause dermatitis in some people, and in the eyes the sap can cause temporary blindness which may last for several days. Pencil Tree is native to Africa, cultivated and naturalized elsewhere.

Identification credit: V.K. Haridasan Photographed in Amruth Herbal Gardens, FRLHT, Bangalore.

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