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What is a Candelabra Tree?

Deanna Baranyi
Updated May 16, 2024
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Candelabra tree is also known by its scientific name, Euphorbia ingens. It is considered a succulent and is native to parts of Africa, the East Indies, and other countries bordering the equator. Generally, the candelabra tree can reach heights of about 40 feet (12.2 m). It generally has a single column with branches that reach out from the top section of that trunk, looking much like a candelabra. It also has needles along its green-colored trunk and branches, like a cactus, but the true danger lies in its sap, which is so toxic that can cause blindness and burns.

It is easy to maintain and care for a candelabra tree. The species thrives in sunny, arid areas, but it can survive if it is planted in an area of partial shade as well. It does not require a specific soil type, as long as the soil drains well. It only needs to be watered from time to time, and over watering may even be detrimental to the candelabra tree. It is considered a slow-growing plant, but is perfect for areas where water is scarce and soil is infertile.

Propagating the candelabra tree is easy, but it can be dangerous, since the sap is extremely toxic. In general, it is propagated from stem cuttings, but heavy gloves and eye protection should be worn when it is handled. The sap can cause blisters on the skin and blindness if it gets in the eyes. Although it is a great addition for many rock gardens in arid areas, children and animals should be kept away from this succulent. People and animals who accidentally consume this plant may experience nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and possibly death.

The sap from the candelabra tree has been used to poison entire ponds of fish. Most animals will not eat this succulent because of the needles on its trunk and branches, but cattle moving through areas of native growing candelabra trees have experienced serious burns and blisters. In addition, it has been used as a living fence to protect property lines and set firm borders.

There are some medicinal uses for the sap in small, controlled amounts, particularly by native cultures. For example, it is possible to use it to treat ulcers or as a purgative. In addition, some native groups believe it will cure cancer. Other uses for the candelabra tree include using the wood from the trunk to construct boats, planks, and doors.

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Deanna Baranyi
By Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her work. With degrees in relevant fields and a keen ability to understand and connect with target audiences, she crafts compelling copy, articles, and content that inform and engage readers.
Discussion Comments
By SZapper — On Sep 24, 2011

@indemnifyme - Well it might be good to have around in case you ever get an ulcer!

But seriously, if I really wanted this tree I wouldn't let the poisonous sap stop me. I'd just plant it in the backyard and get a fence or something.

By indemnifyme — On Sep 23, 2011

Wow! I do not see myself planting a candelabra tree anytime soon. It sounds like a cool looking tree and all, but I'm a little put off by the sap.

I can totally imagine something going wrong if you planted this tree in a neighborhood with children. Kids get into anything and everything. I could see a kid hurting themselves on the sap from this tree.

I know when I was kid collecting sticks was one of my favorite activities. Sometimes I even tore small branches off trees just because! Imagine doing that and getting hit with some poisonous sap!

Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her...
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