Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Desert Candle
Euphorbia abyssinica

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)
Species: abyssinica (a-biss-IN-ee-kuh) (Info)
Synonym:Euphorbia acrurensis
Synonym:Euphorbia grandis

13 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
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
Partial to Full Shade

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From herbaceous stem cuttings
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

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to view:

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #1 of Euphorbia abyssinica by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #2 of Euphorbia abyssinica by Xenomorf

By palmbob
Thumbnail #3 of Euphorbia abyssinica by palmbob

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #4 of Euphorbia abyssinica by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #5 of Euphorbia abyssinica by Xenomorf

By chgrpt
Thumbnail #6 of Euphorbia abyssinica by chgrpt

By palmbob
Thumbnail #7 of Euphorbia abyssinica by palmbob

There are a total of 16 photos.
Click here to view them all!


5 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive BayAreaTropics On Oct 15, 2005, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

Long after the big freeze of 07 I am surprised at how well it did. About 12' tall and now multi branching it is a lush gloss green. Interesting when younger but still about 4-5',it was frost damaged at 32. At the time it was under the roof line.Now,I have learned that is a very bad place to to keep tropicals in a freeze-roof's act like waterfalls of super cold air. It was moved away from the roof a couple or three years ago and has not had any cold damage since.
The only problem since then, is it developed a lean that became pronounced during heavy rains last year. For now it has been tied back.
2010: I see that mine is getting the twisting weeping arms like those famous plants at Lotusland. If you like that look-E.abyssinica is the one to get.

Positive RWhiz On Sep 10, 2005, RWhiz from Spring Valley, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This is a nice upright tree. It doesn't have the usual spine problems along the stem ridges (they are tiny) that one gets with other Euphorbias. Sometimes when the plant is heavily laden with fruit, it will bend the stem segments and eventually that segment will break off.

It has a very clean and neat appearance otherwise. Highly recommended, low-maintenance tree.

Positive hanna1 On Nov 8, 2004, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Euphorbia abyssinica, Synonym: Euphorbia acrurensis, Euphorbia grandis. Needs protection from frost. Min avg temps 50F(10C), From Ethiopia, Can grow up to 15ft tall, branches with 8 angles (4 for E.acruensis), thorns in pairs. Moderate water when growing.

Positive Forkboy On Feb 24, 2004, Forkboy wrote:


I have been growing this plant for about 7 years now in Seattle. Keep it out of direct summer sun as sunburn will occor. They are fast growing. I started out with a clump of 4 plants under 2" tall and now after seperating they range from 4' to 6' tall. A wonderful house plant ( at least in the NW ) grows indoors year round with houselight and warmth. Dosent appear to like
Cactus Juice brand fertilizer. I usually get leaves around Easter and the trick is to keep them for the summer.

Neutral palmbob On Feb 16, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant has been a struggle for me to identify clearly for many years as it has not been well described anywhere that I can find, and photos of it conflict greatly in the literature and on the web. Additionally, the synonym E acurensis is also problematic as plants sold as this in nurseries (and this is a very common situation) do NOT match the 'current understanding' of what Aloe abyssinica looks like. I am still not 100% sure, but from photos displayed of E abyssinica plant in Euphorbia Journal, I am think I finally have the puzzle worked out... would appreciate any confirmation or arguments otherwise. Thank you.

Euphorbia abyssinica, as far as I understand it today (jan 2011) is a candellabra-like plant (single stem with many upright, relatively parallel branches) of dark green coloration and somewhat 'wavy' ridges of vertical 'fins', usually over 4 in number, and usually 6 or 7 (maybe more). This number of ridges distinguishes this plant from the more commonly seen candelbra-like Euphorbias commonly encountered in cultivation such as E ammak (4-5 fins.. usually 4), E ingens (4-5 fins, again, usually 4) and E 'acurensis-nursery trade) with 3-4 fins. All other Euphorbias of this general shape are either much smaller in diameter (such as E trigona, lactea, etc.), rarer, or have different spines. The wavy ridges distinguish E abyssinica from all other large Euphorbias except E ammak, which can also have wavy ridges. This is in contrast to species like E grandicornis which have massive spines and greatly exaggerated ridges (if you can even call them that). At this time, most of the photos on this page are NOT E abyssinica, but I am hoping with some discussion with the Davesgarden administration staff I can remedy that.

Positive Happenstance On Aug 28, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

Like all Euphorbia HANDLE WITH CARE, the latex/sap is dangerous and can cause skin rash, itching and general discomfort.


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

Dothan, Alabama
Scottsdale, Arizona
Castro Valley, California
Clayton, California
Hayward, California
San Diego, California
Spring Valley, California
Torrington, Connecticut
Apopka, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Huntersville, North Carolina

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