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Euphorbia balsamifera (*)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Malpighiales

Familia: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamilia: Euphorbioideae
Tribus: Euphorbieae
Subtribus: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia
Subgenus: E. subg. Athymalus
Sectio: E. sect. Balsamis
Species: Euphorbia balsamifera
Subspecies: E. b. subsp. adenensis – E. b. subsp. balsamifera

Euphorbia balsamifera Aiton, 1789

Tithymalus balsamifer (Aiton) Haw., Syn. Pl. Succ.: 140 (1812).

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Africa
Algeria; Benin; Burkina; Canary Is.; Central African Repu; Chad; Congo; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Liberia; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Somalia; Sudan; Togo; Western Sahara
Continental: Asia-Temperate
Regional: Arabian Peninsula
Oman; Saudi Arabia; Socotra; Yemen

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Aiton, W. 1789. Hortus Kewensis; or, a catalogue of the plants cultivated in the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. Vol. II. Octandria–Monadelphia. 460 pp., tt. 7–10. George Nicol, London. BHL Reference page. : 2:137.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Euphorbia balsamifera in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Jun 21. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2020. Euphorbia balsamifera. Published online. Accessed: Jun 21 2020.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Euphorbia balsamifera in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Jun 21. Reference page.
Tropicos.org 2020. Euphorbia balsamifera. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Jun 21.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Euphorbia balsamifera in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 08-Apr-12.

Vernacular names
English: Balsam Spurge
suomi: Palsamityräkki

Euphorbia balsamifera (balsam spurge) is a flowering plant in the spurge family Euphorbiaceae. It is distributed in the Canary Islands and the western Sahara. It is the vegetable symbol of the island of Lanzarote.[1] Euphorbia adenensis has been treated as a subspecies of this species.


The plant varies greatly in height. It can be described both as a low shrub or as a small tree from 2–5 meters tall. The stems are up to 15 cm in diameter, semisucculent without spines, covered with transverse leaf-scars. The color of the stem varies from gray to terra-cotta. It is branched from the base, the older parts gradually becoming knotty and very thick. The leaves are 80 millimeters long and 4–8 millimeters wide clustered at the tips of the stems. They are green and glaucous, sessile, varying in shape from linear-lanceolate to ovate. The inflorescences are terminal cymes, usually reduced to a single semi-sessile 6 millimeters wide cyathium at the tip of each stem. The color of pseudo-petals is yellowish green. The fruit of the plant is a green large capsule 10 millimeters long and 9 millimeters wide, pinkish-reddish-green when ripened. It is shallowly lobed, smooth or hairy and semi-sessile.[2]: 210 

Two subspecies have been distinguished, but Euphoria balsamifera subsp. adenensis is now accepted as a separate species, Euphorbia adenensis.[3]
Distribution and habitat

Euphorbia balsamifera is native to the Canary Islands, western Morocco and Western Sahara.[4]

The tree grows 800 meters above sea level in dense communities on rocky grounds and sandy dunes (except for extremely mobile dunes) in plains among other succulent plants.

Milky latex of Euphorbia balsamifera is poisonous like in other Euphorbia species, but it is not so caustic. It is widely used[where?] in dentistry as anesthesia for acute dental pulpitis treatment.[5]

The leaves were gathered and cooked as a green vegetable in the Canary Islands.[6]
See also

List of animal and plant symbols of the Canary Islands
Euphorbia kamerunica, closely related plant in Africa with similar uses


"Símbolos de la naturaleza para las Islas Canarias" [Natural Symbols for the Canary Islands]. Ley No. 7/1991 of 30 April 1991 (in Spanish). Vol. 151. pp. 20946–20497 – via BOE.
Bramwell, D.; Bramwell, Z. (2001). Wild flowers of the Canary Islands. Madrid, Spain: Editorial Rueda. ISBN 978-84-7207-129-2.
"Euphorbia adenensis Deflers". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2021-12-12.
"Euphorbia balsamifera Aiton". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2021-12-12.
"Morocco.com | Morocco's Fascinating Flora". Morocco.com. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
G. Miller, Anthony; Morris, Miranda (1988). Plants of Dhofar. Oman: The Sultanate of Oman. p. 138. ISBN 978-071570808-8.

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