Herbs & Plants

Euphorbia cupularis

Botanical Name: Euphorbia cupularis
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Euphorbia
Species: E. cupularis

*Euphorbia arborescens E.Mey.
*Euphorbia synadenia Baill.
*Synadenium arborescens Boiss.
*Synadenium cupulare (Boiss.) L.C.Wheeler ex A.C.White, R.A.Dyer & B.Sloane

Common Names: Dead-man’s tree (Zulu: umdlebe)

Habitat : Euphorbia cupularis is found in South Africa and Swaziland. It grows in open woodland.


Euphorbia cupularis is a shrub or a tree with fleshy branches; it usually grows from 2 – 4 metres tall.


Cultivation: A plant mainly of the subtropics, entering the tropical zone in southern Mozambique and northern S. Africa.

Propagation : Through Seed –

Cuttings root easily. They need to be stored in light shade for a few days to dry before being planted, or else they will rot. It is best to plant the cuttings when the rain is about to stop, in a well-drained soil

Medicinal Uses:
The latex is extremely toxic, irritant and blistering, and never taken internally.

Latex is placed in a hollow tooth to treat toothache; latex is also rubbed on infected wounds.

The ground dry leaves, or the ground leaves in water, are sniffed to treat headache, catarrh and flu. Dried leaves are eaten to treat asthma.

The burnt roots are used with other plants to treat paralysis.

An ethanolic leaf extract significantly inhibited prostaglandin-synthesis.

Known Hazards: The latex is extremely toxic, irritant and blistering, and never taken internally.

Like all Euphorbia the sap or “latex” is harmful, and that of E. cupularis gives off an irritating vapour. Contact with the eye can cause considerable destruction and with the mouth a rash, swelling, and peeling of the skin. John Medley Wood, a Natal botanist, said the plant must be handled with caution. After “covering his face, keeping at arms length from the plant, and carefully washing hands and face…felt the effects on the eyelids, nostrils, and lips for several hours…” However, those cultivating the plant at Kew Gardens frequently handle the plant without feeling any effects.Seedlings start non-toxic and become toxic after some damage. Touching it without harming it disables its toxic properties.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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