Arboreal Milkmaid (Euphorbia dendroides)

The Euphorbia dendroides or also known as arboreal milkweed is a shrub that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. The plant is widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean areas, from the west to the Spanish coasts and towards the east reaching the Aegean Sea. In the same way it can be found in Libya, Palestine, Algeria, Africa and in the Canary Islands. It can also be found in various regions of Italy.

Characteristics of Euphorbia dendroides

The arboreal milkweed stands out for being a plant with an arboreal appearance that can develop up to 1.8 meters in length. The branches of these plants are very rigid, being of a reddish tone, it does not have leaves in the basal area.

The branches, when torn, secrete a whitish latex that, if it falls on a person’s skin, can irritate it. During spring and winter, it generates greenish cushions with spherical shapes. During the summer it looks like a leafless shrub, with a somewhat skeletal shape.

Its leaves have a lanceolate tone, from green to reddish, reaching seven centimeters in length. They are placed in the upper part of the branches, where they remain from the beginning of the rains during the autumn season until the beginning of summer, a time when the leaves turn red before shedding.

The inflorescences have an umbrella-like appearance with bracts, that is, tiny leaflets in the lower part of their flowers, with a rhombus structure, whose flowers are of a yellow gold color.

Its anthesis occurs between the time that goes from February to March. The fruits are smooth capsules, which can be 6 millimeters in size, they have flat, gray, smooth seeds that are about 3 millimeters long. Its maturation occurs during the months of May and June.


Regarding their cultivation, they can be reproduced by means of seed or cuttings. For the latter, one must wait for the flowering to finish, while through the seed, it must be done in the autumn season. In nature, its spreading occurs through the opening of the fruit that expels the seeds a considerable distance from the plant.

It can be planted in autumn, so that its roots can grow in winter. To sow it, it is necessary to make holes that are larger than the pottery. If you choose potting, you must make a layer of gravel to put it at the bottom, in this way the plant will have a correct drainage. The substrate, you must do it by combining sand with universal soil.

Pruning the Euphorbia dendroides

Regarding its pruning, keep in mind that it is not necessary to use this technique, only when you have to trim branches to prevent them from spreading too much, which is recommended in the fall season. They do not require much maintenance and little watering. They are resistant to diseases.


It can be used for healing remedies, either to remove corns or warts, this through the application of latex that secretes in the required area. However, given its toxicity levels, it is not recommended that it be used frequently as a home remedy. On the other hand, its seeds and the powder from its root can be used as laxatives, or in higher doses, as purgatives, to solve constipation problems.

It was also given other uses, such as for fishing in fresh waters, against snake bites or to treat rheumatic pain. However, these uses are no longer given due to their toxicity.  Despite having medicinal properties, its use is not recommended at present, since other plants have been found that fulfill the same function but that are safer. Similarly in terms of its aesthetic use, therefore, it is not advisable to use it in these cases.

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