Euphorbia antiquorum (Antique Spurge)

Scientific Name

Euphorbia antiquorum L.

Common Names

Antique Spurge, Euphorbia of the Ancients, Fleshy Spurge, Malayan Spurge, Malayan Spurge Tree, Square Cactus, Square Milk Hedge, Square Spurge, Triangular Spurge


Euphorbia antiquorum var. polygona, Euphorbia arborescens, Euphorbia mayuranathanii, Tithymalus antiquorus

Scientific Classification

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia


This species is native to southeast Asia, especially India, but can also be found in neighboring countries, such as Bangladesh, Burma, China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.


Euphorbia antiquorum is a succulent shrub or small tree, up to 23 feet (7 m) tall, with ascending branches. Older stems are cylindrical with brownish bark. Branches are smooth, green, 3- or 4-ribbed, and up to 2.8 inches (7 cm) thick. Leaves are green, clustered at the apex, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) wide. Spines are paired, blackish, and up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) long. Cyathia are inflorescences consisting of cup-shaped clusters of modified leaves. Each cluster holds one female flower and several male flowers. They are yellowish-green to pinkish and appear all year round. Fruits are 3-lobed capsules, up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) in diameter, initially green, becoming red when ripe.

This succulent is the type species of the genus Euphorbia.

The specific epithet "antiquorum" means "of the ancients" and refers to the medicinal uses of the species in ancient times.

How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia antiquorum

Light: Most Euphorbias are sun lovers, but some will tolerate partial shade. Place your indoor Euphorbias on windows with southern or southeastern exposure.

Soil: Euphorbias require well-drained soil. They even thrive in poor, dry soils. Use a commercial mixture formulated for cacti and succulents or make your own potting mix.

Hardiness: Euphorbia antiquorum can withstand temperatures as low as 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.

Watering: Succulent Euphorbias can survive drought, but do not mean that they need it. From spring to fall, water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Reduce watering in winter, give them just enough water to prevent wilting.

Fertilizing: Every Euphorbia will benefit from fertilizer. Apply a balanced fertilizer in a 10-10-10 NPK formulation, diluted to 1/4 strength once a week during the growing season.

Repotting: Euphorbias do not need to be repotted every year. When your Euphorbia is outgrowing its pot, it is time to repot the plant in a larger pot and give it a fresh potting mix.

Propagation: The easiest and fastest method of propagation for many species is by using cuttings. Euphorbias can also be grown from seeds, but they can be difficult to germinate, even hard to find.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.

Toxicity of Euphorbia antiquorum

Although Euphorbia antiquorum is harvested for local medicinal use, like all other Euphorbias, it produces a white milky sap that is toxic and can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. It is best to keep the plant away from children and pets.


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How to Cultivate a Euphorbia Plant

As a general rule, Spurge requires well-drained soil in full sun. A few tolerate shadier conditions, but none of the family is fussy about soil condition. They even thrive in very poor soils and can tolerate periods of drought.

Euphorbia plant care is simple. Provide them light, moderate moisture and watch for annoying pests, like whitefly. Provide water under the plant’s leaves to prevent powdery mildew.

You will not need to fertilize Spurge often. Wait until the bottom leaves become yellow before feeding with a water-soluble plant food.

Prune when the plant gets out of hand. These plants are almost impossible to kill and are a perfect choice for the novice gardener. Growing Euphorbia to share with a friend is also a great beginner propagation project.

The root of the Euphorbia plant can be used to make a serum. A person suffering from mouth ulcers can gargle several times a day using the serum. It is proven to relieve mouth ulcers and associated pain. It lightens the swollen skin around the sores, tenderness and related burning sensation.

Tissue damage in the burnt area can reduce the amount of protein in the affected area exposing the flesh. If not treated, this will be used as a window by bacteria and fungus viruses to attack the body and cause various infections. Euphorbia is an effective remedy for burns both severe and light burns. The ethanol content in the plant is highly useful to reduce the effects of burn wounds. The antimicrobial characteristic of the plant helps in fighting against microbes that cause infection on burns and open wounds. This study hence proved the benefits of euphorbia to treat burns.

    Light: Plenty of sun Water: Euphorbias like to dry out in between waterings. Do not overwater. When grown indoors, the Euphorbia trigona can grow to 3 to 7 feet tall (1-2 meters). But it is a slow-growing plant, so you won't have to repot it too often. Temperatures: Euphorbias can withstand high summer temperatures, but minimum winter temperatures vary Fertilizer: Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer in the spring and summer

Euphorbias are generally simple to care for. And it is easy to make them happy.

You plant them in well-draining soil, give them light and a bit of moisture, and protect them from pests, and you are good to go.

It also goes without saying that these plants are great for beginners because they do not die easily.

Succulent euphorbias are native to the desert, so they also need growing conditions similar to those of cacti.

These plants are adopted for cultivation outdoors but they also grow well in pots or containers that can be placed inside or outside the house.

Most succulent euphorbias start blooming in the spring, lasting throughout the summer.

Then they go on a dormant period in the winter.

Euphorbia Species, Malayan Spurge

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)
Species: antiquorum f. spiral
Additional cultivar information:(aka Spiral)
Synonym:Euphorbia tortilis


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Apr 12, 2016, MNDave from Lindstrom, MN wrote:

Fascinating spiral growth habit with sharp, toxic spines. Easily grown and propagated from cuttings. This species is often confused with E. tortilis, which closely resembles E. antiquorum. Both species are found growing in close association in throughout peninsular India. Average height in the wild is 5-7m, rarely up to 20m. antiquoru.

On Sep 15, 2008, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

this is a relatively common and highly ornamental plant in cultivation in the US. Not sure why it's called the Malayan Spurge, but my guess is it's from Malaya. However it is probably best known in India where this 'species' grows into monster trees over 20' and nearly as wide. Called E tortilis because of the characteristic twisting of the 'arms' in nice, regular spirals. Spines are short and paired. It is relatively cold sensitive as many of the Indian Euphorbias are (more tropical-like than desert plants).

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