Euphorbia virosa (Willd)

Common Name: Gifboom, Poisoned Tree

Distribution: South Africa to Southern Angola.

Habitat: Stony and sandy soils. Occupying arid areas

Description:  A succulent spiny shrub that has a short main stem that is partly buried, from which numerous 5–10 cm branches emerge. These leafless branches have 4 to 5-8 ribs. Paired thorns grow in regularly spaced intervals from the edges. This species forms clumps up to 5 meters in diameter. The flowers are small and bright yellow.

Propagation: By seed or cutting (allow the cut surface to dry out for 2-3 weeks before placing in an open rooting media).

Cultivation: Min temp of 7°C; Free draining open compost; Sunny position; Water regularly during the growing season (Summer) never allowing the pot to stand in water. Keep almost completely dry in winter.  

Uses: The Black rhino feeds extensively on Euphorbia virosa, however the milky sap (latex) is a skin irritant to humans and can cause blindness if in contact with the eye. Latex was used as an arrow poison by Bushmen.


RBGE Data: May 2012

  • Accession #: 19696822
  • Source: Unknown
  • Provenance: Garden Origin/Unknown
  • Location: Arid Lands House

Check the RBGE Living Plant Database


  • SubClass:                  Core Eudicots
  • Order:                       Malpighiales
  • Family:                       Euphorbiaceae


Euphorbia virosa

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