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Euphorbia Trigona (African milk tree)

Euphorbia Trigona (African milk tree)

Euphorbia Trigona, milk tree, cathedral cactus

Origin of the Euphorbia Trigona.

The Euphorbia Trigona, is also known by the common name of African milk tree or cathedral cactus.

The Euphorbia Trigona, a species of the genus Euphorbia native to southeastern Africa (Rio Graboon).

Please, see the epigraph WARNING , in case of contact with the latex that oozes, when cutting the plant and as a precaution in its handling.

Characteristics of Euphorbia Trigona.

The stems of this species are triangular in shape, although in some cases they can appear with up to 4 edges.

In the corners, we can see thorns accompanied by elongated leaves.

It is a shrub with succulent stems in the shape of a candelabrum of triangular section, in whose three edges are placed longitudinally leaves and thorns of continuous form.

In good conditions it grows very fast and can reach up to 4 meters, forming large upright columns.

Cultivated in a pot, it is kept in a moderate size.

Its leaves grow in spring and die in winter. If it is in poor condition it also loses the leaves.

On the contrary, it is very inconspicuous in flowering.

The Euphorbia Trigona, is a succulent plant with erect stems.

Divided into segments of 15-25 cm separated by constrictions, mottled green color (with time it reaches a shrubby shape) of between 4 to 6 cm in diameter, 3 or 4 sharp and pronounced ribs, with wavy and serrated edges.

Spines spatulate and acuminate from 2 to 4 mm, reddish brown.

Leaves 3 to 5 cm long, spatulate and terminated in a very short mucron.

They usually stay in the plant for a long time, if the temperature and watering are adequate.

How to care for an Euphorbia Trigona.

The Euphorbia Trigona, does not grow well in less than 5º to 7º centigrade, from there, will lose the leaves. Therefore it cannot stand frost .


It needs warm and constant temperatures for its optimal development.

In winter you can place indoor for warmer temperatures and can be placed in an outdoor area where the temperature is around 10-15 ºC.

It is not strictly necessary but it is appreciated.

In summary, the ideal location for this plant is in a semi-shaded position, it tolerates full sun, if it is not too intense.

Indoors, it needs very bright and airy places.

What substrate to use for Euphorbia Trigona.

This plant, above all, requires good drainage of irrigation water. On the other hand, it does not require very specific substrates .

It is necessary that a good part of the substrate (1/3), be sand to facilitate said drainage.

Therefore, use a standard compound.

How to fertilise an Euphorbia Trigona

To the African tree of milk, as a compost you can add 10% peat medium fertilized or leaf mulch in the case that it is grown at a warm temperature during the winter.

How to water a Euphorbia Trigona

An excess of irrigation will cause damage to the foot of the stem and the plant will die. Irrigations should be patchy, but regular and always when the substrate is dry.

In summer, it is necessary to water it so that the substrate never gets dry, but avoiding puddles.

In winter, all risks can be avoided entirely.

How to reproduce the Euphorbia Trigona: Cuttings.

The Euphorbia Trigona spreads by means of the shoots that leave the base of the plant.

In the propagation by cuttings, the fastest and easiest way, it is convenient to let the cut wound heal at least a couple of days, before planting them in a sand-based substrate.

These at the end of spring, can be attacked by cochineal pests , red spider, mildew, whitefly, but if kept indoors, it is largely avoided. Control your plant.

Recommended to transplant every three years, at least.




As with all other varieties of Euphorbias, when a plant is damaged, it emanates a milky, white, thick sap, known as latex.

This latex is poisonous and particularly dangerous to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes, is extremely irritating to the tissues of the mucosa and capable of causing temporary blindness, if it touches the eyes.

In case it splashes on the eyes and / or mucous membranes on the face, an urgent solution is to wash with milk (the cow’s milk we usually drink), since it will reduce the itching.

However, you should go to an emergency service to avoid major problems or call the Toxicology Center, where they will give us the guidelines to solve the problem.


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