Ajuntament de Barcelona

Euphorbia resinifera

Mossèn Costa i Llobera Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Eufòrbia de resina
    Spanish name: 
    Cardón resinoso
    English name: 
    Resin spurge
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Tithymalus resiniferus
    Species characteristics
    South-west of Marrakech and Tusa province (Atlas Mountains)
    Chalky lands in more or less rocky areas, at a height from 600 to 1,800 m, in semiarid environments

    Cactiform fleshy plant, 40-50 cm tall (although it can reach 1.2 m) and measuring up to 3 m in diameter. It is open semispherical looking and forms wide colonies, up to 20 m in diameter. It has always erect quadrangular stems (exceptionally triangular), light greyish to intense green coloured. The stems are ramified from the base and made of four slightly jagged ribs with slightly concave sides (stretch marked when young and flat when aging) and acute beards. At the beards they appear pairs of prickles (0.2-1cm), 0.5-1 cm between them.

    The flowers appear into inflorescences, between the pairs of prickles at the angles, composed of three completely yellow cyathia: the two lateral cyathia, which are pedunculate and hermaphrodite, develop and fall after the central one, which is masculine.

    The fruit is an almost globose small capsule with a short pedicel (4-8 mm) and well differentiate cocca, with a single greyish or yellowish seed, which is covered by thin sheets.

    Flowering time: 
    Fruiting time: 
    Uses and properties: 

    The Resin Spurge latex has been used in medicine since ancient times.

    Its use in cancer treatment and as analgesic is recently under research. It is also used for decoration.

    History and curiosities: 

    In 1753 Carl Linnaeus assigned Euphorbia as a genus name honouring the Greek doctor and herbalist Euphorbus, personal doctor of Juba II of Numidia and Mauritania (52/50 aC-23 dC) and brother of Antonius Musa, who was Augustus's personal doctor. According Plinius the Elder (23-79), Juba found in Atlas mountains a plant which he named euphorbia honouring his personal doctor. However, the studies by the French philologist Claude Saumaise (1588-1653) show that the name euphorbia and the knowledge of the plant are previous to Juba (it was cited by Meleager about two hundred years before).

    The Latin term resinifera, “the one that makes resin”, alludes the latex produced by the plant.