African Milk Bush, Purple Leaf Brown Jug Plant, Tanzanian Red Milk Bush

Euphorbia bicompacta var. rubra

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)
Species: bicompacta var. rubra
Synonym:Synadenium compactum var. rubrum
View this plant in a garden


Cactus and Succulents

Foliage Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

This plant is suitable for growing indoors


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


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)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Pale Green


Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring


Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From woody stem cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

By air layering

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

La Torre De Esteban Hambrán,

Chandler, Arizona

Peoria, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Surprise, Arizona

Carlsbad, California

Hayward, California

Huntington Beach, California

Los Angeles, California

Newport Beach, California

Reseda, California

San Diego, California (2 reports)

Thousand Oaks, California

Bear, Delaware

Orlando, Florida

Saint James City, Florida

Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii

Kurtistown, Hawaii

Davenport, Iowa

Picayune, Mississippi

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 21, 2015, caseyr4u from Davenport, IA wrote:

A person in Ohio was throwing this plant away, and I ask if I can have it, she stated Sure!. I took it about 1 ft tall and it has been three years and it is about 7 ft tall now, and then I divided it and now the second one is about 5 ft tall.

I live in Iowa and I have it placed in the Eastern window, my home faces the south.

I just need help why the smaller one is dropping leaves. It is a beautiful plant. I have 37 windows that are 74" tall and I have tons of daylight coming in all the time.


On Jun 12, 2012, That_Guy from Bear, DE
United States wrote:

I have had the Synadenium grantii Rubra for about a year now growing indoors in Delaware & it has grown almost 14" since! It is now 5 stalks almost 6' tall w foliage top to bottom..very healthy! However, I would like to transplant this into a bigger pot to encourage the growth, does anyone have any suggestions on the best media? It is currently in a sandy gravel-ish type mix as it was when it was given to me, I have read conflicting info regarding transplanting on other sites- please help.


On Aug 14, 2010, Metrosideros from Keaau, HI wrote:

An easy to see difference in Synadenium compactum from S. grantii is that S. compactum has minute teeth on the margins of the leaves, and S. grantii leaf margins are smooth.


On Aug 19, 2009, grik from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

I have grown this plant for about 10 years. I purchased it from Glass House Works knowing nothing about it because they said it was indistructable. Well I can tell you I have abused it, given it little to no light and generally neglected it at different times and it has always come back looking good. It roots well from cuttings. The pictures don't really do the foliage justice. The leaves are sort of a dark maroon splashed with green. If it gets a lot of light it stays more compact but mine is sort of viney and it looks sort of like a bunch of snakes hanging down with leaves on the ends. It's kind of cool.


On Jun 9, 2009, butterfly1963 from Picayune, MS wrote:

This is an amazing plant. Cuttings root readily. And it grows very fast.
I made cuttings of 6' pieces we had to cut off of it. There were about 10 of these 6' pieces. The sap irritated me and got everywhere. I was trying to rinse and wash it off with all sorts of stuff. A fellow DGer looked it up for me online, I was in the tub for the umpteenth time, (we were texting) it is oil soluable. I was ready to go to the ER. All I had to do was wash it off with the veggie oil in the cabinet. So, heads up, if you have one or share it, please pass this info on. So many plants get an undeserving bad rap. There are many plants that children should stay away from, this is just one of the many we all have and grow that the little guys should stay away from.


On May 20, 2008, Rustydog75 from Jackson, MS wrote:

Root as you would any Euphorbia, allowing the stem cutting to dry thoroughly before planting in gritty, well-drained soil. I received my cutting from a lady down the street who has two 4-foot plants in pots she grows in full sun. Interesting foliage addition to a hot Southern patio.


On Oct 8, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

I hesitated for years to say this plant is hardy in the bay area. All my potted plants would decline in a pot outdoors. Finally, I planted my last stem outdoors in my succulent garden. To my surprise it has thrived-even living through the big freeze of 07 unprotected. And it's showing more color than it ever did in a pot. This winter will tell if its long term outdoors.
Fall 2008: It's done great. Looking forward to it now being a long term outdoor succulent that should be very easy to manage.


On Jul 3, 2004, WalterT from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I wonder if the taller version is S. grantii. My two plants are 15 feet tall and still growing here in a frost-free area of San Diego, CA. Leaf color varies from all green to mostly burgundy. See my image. Coloration is different on both sides. The copious sap from these plants is extremely toxic and must never be allowed to reach your eyes as it causes extreme pain for hours and can cause permanent damage. I am in the process of cutting down and removing my two "trees" for these reasons. I am very, very cautious about handling any part of these plants and wash thoroughly after doing so. Even though they are easily propagated from cuttings and rather attractive, I do not advise growing them, especially where children might come in contact with them, indoors or out.


On Mar 30, 2004, Orchiddoc from Orlando, FL wrote:

Am presently growing this plant in a 20 gal container and have several 3 gallon pots going from Tip Cuttings of about 6-8 nodes in length. am using Hormodine #1 as a rooting hormone. This plant is currently thriving!!!!! in the Orlando Fl area!!!! I have it potted in Faffard#3B gropwing media.You need no other ammendments other than14-14-14 procote fertilizer of a 6 month release


On Jan 4, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant does tolerate outdoors in zone 9b, but it will be damaged a bit by frosts (so far, not killed) and lose a bit of succulent stem. Mine has survived 9 years with temps down to 24F so far and only one year (the one it got down to 24) did it show damage. It is a deciduous plant in colder parts of So Cal, but holds its leaves 9 out of 12 months. In warmer areas it can grow up to about 15-20' and branch quite profusely. It has incredibly attractive variegated foliage of red and green. Excellent landscaping plant for warm, xeriscape gardens.

One of the easiest plants in the yard to make cuttings from... just snap off a branch and put it in the ground.. only time I get a failed rooting is if the soil is really boggy or cold.


On Sep 5, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

Greenhouse grown in 9b, native to Eastern Africa, can be grown from cuttings. There is also a green form.

The latex(sap)from this plant is extremely caustic, use caution when handling and keep away from children.