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Euphorbia milii var. tenuispina

Euphorbia milii var. tenuispina, Photo: Michael Lahanas

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. Euphorbia
Sectio: E. sect. Goniostema
Species: Euphorbia milii
Varietates: E. m. var. bevilaniensis – E. m. var. hislopii – E. m. var. longifolia – E. m. var. milii – E. m. var. roseana – E. m. var. splendens – E. m. var. tenuispina – E. m. var. tulearensis
Source(s) of checklist:

Govaerts, R. et al. 2015. Euphorbia milii in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2015 Feb 07. Reference page.


Euphorbia milii Des Moul. (1826)

Euphorbia breonii Nois., Ann. Fl. Pomone 1832-33: 189. 1833, as "breoni", nom. illeg.
Euphorbia milii var. breonii (Nois.) Ursch & Leandri, Mém. Inst. Sci. Madagascar, Sér. B, Biol. Vég. 5: 148. 1954 publ. 1955, nom. inval.
Euphorbia splendens var. breonii Leandri, Notul. Syst. (Paris) 12(3-4): 159, in clav. 1946, as "var. breoni", nom. superfl.


E. × lomi
Native distribution areas:

Continental: Africa
Regional: Western Indian Ocean

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

Des Moulins, C.R.A. (1826) Bulletin de l'Histoire Naturelle de la Société Linnéenne de Bordeaux. Bordeaux 1: 27.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2015. Euphorbia milii in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2015 Feb 07. Reference page.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Euphorbia milii in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 08-Apr-12.

Vernacular names
Afrikaans: Christusdoring
বাংলা: কাঁটা মুকুট
čeština: Pryšec zářivý
Ελληνικά, Κυπριακά: Ωραίος νεός
Deutsch: Christusdorn
English: Christ plant, Crown of thorns
español: Corona de Cristo, corona de espinas, espinas de Cristo
suomi: Piikkikruunu
français: Couronne d'épines, couronne du Christ, épine du Christ
magyar: Pompás kutyatej
Nederlands: Christusdoorn
português: martírios, dois-irmãos, dois-amigos, coroa-de-cristo, bem-casados
русский: Молочай прекрасный
slovenčina: Prýštec ohnivý
ไทย: โป๊ยเซียน
Türkçe: Çöl minesi
Tiếng Việt: Xương rồng bát tiên
中文: 铁海棠, 虎刺梅

Euphorbia milii, the crown of thorns, Christ plant, or Christ thorn, is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family Euphorbiaceae, native to Madagascar. The species name commemorates Baron Milius, once Governor of Réunion, who introduced the species to France in 1821.[2] It is imagined that the species was introduced to the Middle East in ancient times, and legend associates it with the crown of thorns worn by Christ.[3] It is commonly used as an ornamental houseplant that can be grown in warmer climates. The common name[4] is due to the thorns and deep red bracts referring to the crown thorn Jesus had to wear during his crucification and his blood.


It is a woody succulent subshrub or shrub growing to 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) tall, with densely spiny stems. The straight, slender spines, up to 3 cm (1.2 in) long, help it scramble over other plants. The fleshy, green leaves are found mainly on new growth,[2] and are up to 3.5 cm (1.4 in) long and 1.5 cm (0.59 in) broad. The flowers are small, subtended by a pair of conspicuous petal-like bracts, variably red, pink or white, up to 12 mm (0.47 in) broad.[5] Wat Phrik in Thailand claims to be the home of the world's tallest Christ thorn plant.[6] The plant thrives between spring and summer but produces flowers all year round.
Mutation in Crown of thorns

The sap is moderately poisonous, and causes irritation on contact with skin or eyes. If ingested, it causes severe stomach pain, irritation of the throat and mouth, and vomiting. The poisonous ingredients have been identified as phorbol esters.[7] It is very toxic to domesticated animals such as, horses, sheep, cats and dogs.[8] For humans it is mildly toxic and only acts as an irritant.

Euphorbia milii has two uses:[9]

The plant itself has proven to be an effective molluscicide and a natural alternative to pest control. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the usage of Euphorbia milii in aiding snail control.[10] Especially in endemic countries. Schistosomiasis is an infectious disease from freshwater parasites, carried by snails. Extracts from the plant are used to control the snail population to avoid getting infected from a parasite.

Medicinal plants are very important to humans when it comes to developing drugs for ailments. In the family Euphorbiaceae, there are about 300 genera and 7,500 species that have their own unique medicinal values.[11]

E. milii is a variable species, and several varieties have been described; some of these are treated as distinct species by some authors.[5] E. milii var. splendens (syn. E. splendens) is considered to be the living embodiment of the supreme deity in Bathouism, a minority religion practiced by the Bodo people of Eastern India and Nepal.

Euphorbia milii var. bevilaniensis (Croizat) Ursch & Leandri 1955
Euphorbia milii var. hislopii (N.E.Br.) Ursch & Leandri 1955 (syn. E. hislopii)
Euphorbia milii var. imperatae (Leandri) Ursch & Leandri 1955
Euphorbia milii var. longifolia Rauh 1967
Euphorbia milii var. milii
Euphorbia milii var. roseana Marn.-Lap. 1962
Euphorbia milii var. splendens (Bojer ex Hook.) Ursch & Leandri 1955
Euphorbia milii var. tananarivae (Leandri) Ursch & Leandri 1955
Euphorbia milii var. tenuispina Rauh & Razaf. 1991
Euphorbia milii var. tulearensis Ursch & Leandri 1955
Euphorbia milii var. vulcanii (Leandri) Ursch & Leandri 1955


Euphorbia milii can be propagated from cuttings.[12] E. milii is not hardy, and does not tolerate temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F). In temperate areas it needs to be grown under glass in full sun. During the summer it may be placed outside in a sheltered spot, when all risk of frost is absent. The species[13] and the variety E. milii var. splendens[14] have both gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[15]


Razanajatovo, H. (2020). "Euphorbia milii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T44389A153299391. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-1.RLTS.T44389A153299391.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
Ombrello, Dr T., Crown of Thorns, Plant of the Week, UCC Biology Department, archived from the original on 17 September 2009, retrieved 1 October 2009
Chudasama, C.A.M. (2018). "Molecular marker study in ornamental plant Euphorbia milii". Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 7 (3). Retrieved 10 December 2020.
"Crown of Thorns". Retrieved 11 December 2020.
Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. ISBN 978-0-333-47494-5.
"Crown-of-Thorns (Euphorbia milii)". Veterinary Medicine Library. University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Archived from the original on 2017-03-23. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
"Plants Toxic to Animals". Retrieved 18 December 2020.
de Carvalho Augusto, Ronaldo; et al. (July 28, 2017). "Double impact: natural molluscicide for schistosomiasis vector control also impedes development of Schistosoma mansoni cercariae into adult parasites". PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Souza, C.A.M. (November 1997). "Study of the embryofeto-toxicity of Crown-of-Thorns (Euphorbia milii) latex, a natural molluscicide". Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. 30 (11): 1325–32. doi:10.1590/S0100-879X1997001100011. PMID 9532242.
Chudasama, Krupaliba; et al. (2018). "Molecular marker study in ornamental plant Euphorbia milii". Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 7 (3). Retrieved 10 December 2020.
Complete Guide to Houseplants. Meredith Publishing Group.
"RHS Plantfinder - Euphorbia milii". Retrieved 23 February 2018.
"RHS Plantfinder - Euphorbia milii var. splendens". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
"AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 35. Retrieved 16 February 2018.

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