Pencil Cactus or Euphorbia tirucali

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ISSN 1059-6518 Volume 28 Number 3

By Brandon Munsell NREMT-P , WEMT-P, SOLO Instructor

A Cactus! Oh how our legs and hands quiver at the mention of these spiny land urchins…but it may well be the spike-less Pencil Cacti that should send danger signals to those who venture into the southern climates.

In this article we are going to explore the Pencil Cactus or Euphorbia tirucali from a EMS perspective.

The Pencil Cactus, or Milkbush, is not a true cactus at all but rather belongs to the Euphorbia family. It originates from the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and India. This Pencil-cactusfamily also includes the festive poinsettia and the Cathedral Cactus.

Out in the bush it can grow as tall as 30-feet and is a leafless plant that has tendril like green branches that are about the width of a pencil. When no growth begins at the distal end, tiny leaves may briefly appear before falling.

This attractive plant has become a popular large houseplant that can reach ceiling height when given a couple years in a properly-sized container. As the size increases, large limbs fall off. This species has also gained popularity as a landscaping plant in the Southern U.S.

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