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   Index



 

EUPHORBIACEAE — 10
Euphorbia ramosissima - Euphorbia virosa

(Spurge family)

 



Euphorbia ramosissima Hook. & Arn.

Souder (1963) lists this species among spurges that cause an acute dermatitis on contact with their sap or latex.



Euphorbia resinifera Berg

Wimmer (1926) referred to the spines of Euphorbia resinifera as a possible cause of mechanical injury.

This species is one of the sources of Gum Euphorbium or Gummi Resina; other sources include Euphorbia canariensis L., Euphorbia officinalis L., and Euphorbia antiquorum L. (Uphof 1959). The latex is collected by making incisions in the stem and is then dried. The taste is extremely acrid and persistent and the dust excites violent sneezing (Burkill 1935, Wren 1975, Todd 1967). Dioscorides and Pliny described the method of collecting the juice so as to prevent irritation of the hands and face (Dispensatory 1884). The men who collect the exuded dried latex muffle their faces to prevent the dust getting into their mouths and nostrils. The action upon man is first to cause sneezing, then irritation of the skin and mucous membrane, vomiting, diarrhoea and death (Burkill 1935). The drug is no longer used medicinally but serves to make an anti-fouling paint for ship's bottoms. The plant is used to make a vesicant ointment in veterinary medicine (Perrot & Paris 1971).

The latex was used to destroy warts (Bigelow 1817) and as an ingredient of a rubefacient plaster. Pammel (1911) lists Euphorbia resinifera as being irritant. Nadkarni (1976) refers to its counter irritant properties.

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of resiniferonol, ingenol, and 12-deoxyphorbol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977). Resiniferatoxin, one of the most potent irritants known, has been isolated from this species (Hergenhahn et al. 1975). Several irritant 12-deoxyphorbol & ingenol esters have also been found in euphorbium derived from this species (Hergenhahn et al. 1974).



Euphorbia rigida Bieb.
(syns Euphorbia biglandulosa Desf., Tithymalus biglandulosa Haw.)

Smirnov & Efremov (1970) have reported dermatitis from this species.

The latex is irritant in the mouse ear irritancy assay from its content of ingenol esters (Evans & Kinghorn 1974, 1977, Kinghorn & Evans 1975a). Esters of 4-deoxyphorbol, ingenol, and 20-deoxyingenol have subsequently been identified from this species (Falsone & Crea 1979, Falsone et al. 1982).



Euphorbia robbiae Turrill

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of ingenol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977).



Euphorbia rothiana Sprengel

This species has irritant properties (Chopra & Badhwar 1940, Behl et al. 1966, Sood et al. 1971, Sofat et al. 1972).



Euphorbia royleana Boiss.
(syn. Euphorbia pentagona Royle)

This species has irritant properties (Chopra & Badhwar 1940, Behl et al. 1966, Sood et al. 1971, Sofat et al. 1972). Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay and subsequently (Evans & Kinghorn 1977) reported the presence of ingenol esters in the plant.



Euphorbia schlechtendalii Boiss.

This species is said to be very poisonous, caustic, and used to poison fish (von Reis Altschul 1973).



Euphorbia segetalis L.
(syn. Tithymalus segetalis Lam.)

Upadhyay et al. (1980a) ascribe the irritancy of the latex of this species to the presence of ingenol esters.



Euphorbia seguieriana Necker
(syn. Euphorbia gerardiana Jacq.)

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant. The irritants are ingenol esters (Upadhyay et al. 1976a, 1976b, 1980a).

Honey derived from the nectar of this species was found to have moderately irritant properties associated with the presence of ingenol triesters (Upadhyay et al. 1980b).



Euphorbia serrata L.
(syn. Tithymalus serratus Hill)

The irritants of this species are ingenol esters (Upadhyay et al. 1976a, 1976b, 1980a).



Euphorbia serrulata Reinw.

Souder (1963) lists this species among spurges that cause an acute dermatitis on contact with their sap or latex.



Euphorbia sibthorpii Boiss.

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant. Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of ingenol and 5-deoxyingenol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977).



Euphorbia sieboldiana Morren & Decne.

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia sikkimensis Boiss.

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of ingenol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977).



Euphorbia stenoclada Baillon

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) found the latex of this species to be non-irritant in a mouse ear irritancy assay.



Euphorbia striata Thunb.

Handling the fresh plant can produce irritation of the skin (Steyn 1928).



Euphorbia striatella Boiss.
(syn. Tithymalus striatus Klotzsch & Garcke)

Upadhyay et al. (1980a) ascribed the strong irritancy of this species to the presence of ingenol esters.



Euphorbia sudanica A. Chev.

The latex of this thorny succulent species is caustic (Dalziel 1937).



Euphorbia szovitsii Fischer & Meyer
(syn. Tithymalus szovitsii Klotzsch & Garcke)

Upadhyay et al. (1980a) ascribed the weak irritancy of this species to the presence of ingenol esters.



Euphorbia terracina L.
False Caper, Geraldton Carnation Weed

The milky sap of this plant, which has a repulsive smell, causes inflammation of the eyes and of the softer portions of the human body when the plants are pulled by hand and the workers are heated (J. Agr. S. Aust. 1947). Orchard (1954) refers to irritation by the plant. The plant is also said to have no, or only a faint scent (Cleland 1952).



Euphorbia tetragona Haw.

The latex of this thorny succulent species is irritant and blisters the skin, and produces severe irritation and even blindness when accidentally applied to the eyeball. However, the latex has also been utilised for the manufacture of chewing gum (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).



Euphorbia thomsoniana Boiss.

This species is irritant (Chopra & Badhwar 1940, Behl et al. 1966).



Euphorbia tirucalli L.
(syn. Euphorbia viminalis Mill.)
Naked Lady, Pencil Tree, Indian Tree Spurge, Milk Bush, Rubber Hedge, Finger Tree, Tulang Tulang, Tentulang

This plant and also Euphorbia lactea Haw. are often planted in foundation boxes in Florida. They outgrow such locations and have to be cut back exposing the trimmer to the free-flowing sap which can cause skin eruptions and blisters, intense burning, and temporary blindness (Morton 1958). The plant is grown as a garden subject in Western Australia, as a common "rubber hedge" of Southern Zimbabwe planted around African Kraals as a deterrent to marauders, as a live hedge plant, and on graves in Malawi where it discourages browsing animals. Planted in India as a cattle fence, it used to be a formidable obstacle to cavalry. From India it has been reported to be used by criminals to destroy the eyes of domestic animals; it is established there as a common road-side tree.

The latex is violently irritant to the skin and eye (Pammel 1911, Burkill 1935, Raymond 1939, Chopra & Badhwar 1940, Corner 1952, Williamson 1955, Oliver 1959, Everist 1962, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962, Souder 1963, Aplin 1966, Behl et al. 1966, Francis & Southcott 1967, Arnold 1972, Grant 1974, Nadkarni 1976, Morton 1981). Washing with water will not remove the irritant latex which forms a rubbery clot after one minute's exposure to the air (Crowder & Sexton 1964, Everist 1962). Strobel et al. 1978 described a case of widespread dermatitis in an 8 year old who had played in a hedge of Euphorbia tirucalli and come into contact with the abundant latex. Kerato-conjunctivitis from the plant (Crowder & Sexton 1964) is noted under Euphorbia lactea Haw.

Roe & Field (1965) tested the latex of nine Euphorbia species and found that of Euphorbia tirucalli to be the most irritant and cocarcinogenic for mouse skin. Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of 4-deoxyphorbol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977). Ingenol and 4-deoxyphorbol esters have been isolated from this species (Fürstenberger & Hecker 1977a, 1977b, Kinghorn 1979b). Interestingly, Baslas & Gupta (1982, 1983a, 1983b) have reported the isolation of a number of compounds from Euphorbia tirucalli bark and roots that have previously been reported from Euphorbia poissonii Pax.



Euphorbia tithymaloides L. ssp parasitica V.M. Steinm.
(syns Pedilanthus latifolius Millsp. & Britton, Pedilanthus parasiticus Klotsch & Garcke, Pedilanthus tithymaloides Poit. ssp parasiticus Dressler)
Christmas Candle, Redbird Flower

The stems, leaves and roots of Pedilanthus latifolius possess a very caustic milky juice which can produce severe irritation of the skin (Roig y Mesa 1953).



Euphorbia tithymaloides L. ssp tithymaloides
(syns Pedilanthus fendleri Boiss., Pedilanthus gritensis Zahlbr., Pedilanthus tithymaloides Poit.)
Japanese Poinsettia, Milkbush, Redbird Cactus, Redbird Flower, Slipper Plant, Christmas Candle, Candedilla, Lady's Slipper

The milky sap is caustic and may cause rash and even blistering of the skin. It is acutely painful and injurious in the eye (Pammel 1911, Allen 1943, 1981, Blohm 1962, Martinez 1969). Some horticultural varieties of the plant have irritant properties (Behl et al. 1966).

The milky sap of Pedilanthus tithymaloides Poit. is acutely painful and injurious to the eye (Morton 1962a, Lampe & Fagerström 1968, Grant 1974).

Upadhyay & Hecker (1974) found the plant to be non-irritant when screened for irritancy.



Euphorbia triangularis Desf.
(syn. Euphorbia evansii N.E. Br.)

Honey produced from the nectar of this thorny succulent species is said to be irritant but the latex has been used for making rubber and chewing gum and is described as being patently non-irritant (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

The irritants of this species are 12-deoxyphorbol esters (Gschwendt & Hecker 1969, Gschwendt & Hecker 1974). Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) also demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of 12-deoxyphorbol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977).



Euphorbia trigona Mill.
(syn. Euphorbia hermentiana Lemaire)
Friendship Cactus, African Milk-Bush

The latex of this Indian shrub is irritant but less so than that of its close relatives (Burkill 1935). Chopra & Badhwar (1940) and Souder (1963) list Euphorbia trigona among spurges that cause an acute dermatitis on contact with their sap or latex.

Euphorbia hermentiana has been sold in plant stores in the Chicago area, and was being given away by a bank as an incentive to open a savings account. In a clinical investigation, the latex produced an irritant follicular dermatitis in open tests on the forearms of volunteers, but vesiculation and bullae with residual desquamation and hyperpigmentation in closed tests (Worobec et al. 1981). The dermatitic constituents were subsequently identified as esters of ingenol and 16-hydroxyingenol (Lin et al. 1983).



Euphorbia unispina N.E. Br.
Candle Plant, Tinya

The latex of this thorny succulent is a powerful irritant (Dalziel 1937).

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of resiniferonol and 12-deoxyphorbol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977). Resiniferatoxin and tinyatoxin, two of the most irritant compounds known, has been isolated from this species (Hergenhahn et al. 1975, Schmidt & Evans 1975), together with several esters of 12-deoxyphorbol (Schmidt & Evans 1977a).



Euphorbia venefica Trémaux

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia venenata Marloth

This thorny succulent species can produce severe inflammation of the mucosae (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).



Euphorbia verrucosa Lam.

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia virosa Willd.

The latex of this species is said to be irritant and virulently poisonous (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).




Richard J. Schmidt [Valid HTML 4.01!]



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