[BoDD logo]

Custom Search

 
Google uses cookies
to display context-
sensitive ads on this
page. Learn how to
manage Google cookies
by visiting the

Google Technologies Centre

 
 
 
 
 ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼

 

 

 ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲ ▲

[BBEdit logo]

   Index



 

EUPHORBIACEAE — 6
Euphorbia - Euphorbia cyparissias

(Spurge family)

 



Euphorbia L.
Spurge

This is the largest genus in the family comprising some 2000 species of cosmopolitan distribution. They occur chiefly in sub-tropical and warm temperate regions.

A number of species resemble cacti (fam. Cactaceae) in many respects, being armed with spines and having a xerophytic succulent form. These species in particular are popularly grown alongside cacti in collections of succulents. They are readily distinguished from cacti, however, by their milky latex which is often, but not invariably, irritant and caustic. As with cacti, mechanical injury may be sustained from their spines (Oakes & Butcher 1962). (See also Cactaceae and Didiereaceae). Botanical descriptions of the succulent species of Euphorbia are provided by Jacobsen (1974).

Theophrastus in the 4th Century B.C. noted that the juice of the spurge could cause blindness in animals and man. Culpeper (1653) wrote of the irritant effects of spurges which "abound with a hot and acrid juice, which when applied outwardly, eats away warts and other excresences"; Loudon et al. (1855) similarly noted that "The juice of every species of Spurge is so acrid that it corrodes and inflames the body wherever it is applied ... externally it is dropped on warts and corns to remove them". The strongly rubefacient, depilatory, wart and freckle-removing actions of spurges were also documented by Van Hasselt & Henkel (1882). In the more recent literature, Behl et al. (1966) noted that the milky latex of many species is powerfully irritant to the skin and eye and may used by Indian villagers as a rubefacient and to remove warts. The irritant action of euphorbias in general has also been reported by Lewis (1922), Touton (1932), Roig y Mesa (1945), Williams (1949), Heyne (1950), Lipparoni (1951), Brown (1954), Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962), North (1967), and several other authors.

Some 50 species of Euphorbia were listed by Pammel (1911) as being irritant.

Noors honey, which produces a hot, burning sensation in the mouth and throat (which is increased rather than decreased by drinking water), is honey prepared from the nectar of certain Euphorbia species, including Euphorbia ingens E.Mey., Euphorbia ledienii A. Berger, Euphorbia triangularis Desf., Euphorbia virosa Willd., and possibly Euphorbia cooperi N.E. Br. (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962). Upadhyay et al. (1980b) found esters of ingenol in honey derived from the nectar of Euphorbia seguieriana Necker. Morton (1964) also discussed this topic.

Euphorbia juice has been used in Africa as an ingredient of arrow poison (Dalziel 1937, Uphof 1959, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).



Euphorbia abyssinica J. Gmelin

In Central Africa, the plant has been used as a caustic on skin lesions (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).



Euphorbia acaulis Roxb.
(syn. Euphorbia fusiformis Buch.-Ham.)

The plant is irritant (Chopra & Badhwar 1940, Behl et al. 1966), and the latex has been used for its mild irritant effect in the treatment of chronic eczema (Agrawal et al. 1971).



Euphorbia aleppica L.
(syn. Tithymalus aleppicus Klotzsch & Garcke)

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia alsinaeflora Baillon

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia amygdaloides L.
(syns Euphorbia sylvatica L., Tithymalus amygdaloides Hill)

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant. Gillot (1927a) notes that the seed oil is purgative and devoid of rubefacient properties.



Euphorbia androsaemifolia Willd.

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex on mouse ears.



Euphorbia antiquorum L.
(syn. Tithymalus antiquorum Moench)
Malayan Spurge Tree, Sudu Sudu, Sesudu

In Malaya, this species forms a spiny cactus-like shrub or tree up to 4.5 metres in height (Corner 1952). The plant may be confused with Euphorbia lactea Haw. (Bailey & Bailey 1976).

The latex is irritant to the skin (Pammel 1911, Burkill 1935, Chopra & Badhwar 1940, Behl et al. 1966, Nadkarni 1976). Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex on mouse ears.

The sap is irritating to the human eye (Santos Fernandez 1892, Lampe & Fagerström 1968, Grant 1974). Blindness may occur following eye contact (Souder 1963).



Euphorbia antisyphilitica Zucc.
(syn. Euphorbia cerifera Alcocer)
Candelilla

This species, the source of candelilla wax, is irritant (Schwartz et al. 1957).

A proteolytic enzyme named euphorbain has been reported from Euphorbia cerifera (Casteñeda et al. 1943b).



Euphorbia balsamifera Aiton
(syn. Tithymalus balsamiferus Haw.)
Balsam Spurge

Dalziel (1937) recorded that the latex appears to be harmless as pieces of the young shoots are commonly sucked. He also noted that the latex was applied to treat a skin affection known as taya-ni-goyo, a Hausa term meaning "help me carry the child", on the back of a woman caused by carrying a child. Other uses indicating that the latex is not injurious to the skin were also described. In contrast, Aubréville (1936, 1950) noted that the latex is corrosive whilst Strobel et al. (1978) reported a case of bullous dermatitis of the hands in a 26 year old female who had intended to apply the latex to her face but was dissuaded from doing so after experiencing an immediate smarting pain on her hands.

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated very weak 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, Evans & Taylor 1983).



Euphorbia bicolor Engelm. & A. Gray

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia bracteata Jacq.
(syns Pedilanthus bracteatus Boiss., Pedilanthus pavonis Boiss., Tithymalodes bracteatum Kuntze, Tithymalus bracteatus Haw., Ventenatia bracteata Tratt.)

Pedilanthus bracteatus is used locally as a violent purgative (von Reis Altschul 1973).



Euphorbia bupleurifolia Jacq.

The plant is a violent emetic and purgative and is stated to be as dangerous as croton oil (Croton tiglium L.) if taken in overdose (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).



Euphorbia calyculata Kunth
(syns Euphorbiodendron calyculatum Millsp., Tithymalus calyculatus Klotzsch & Garcke)

The juice produces swelling and itching of the skin (Martinez 1969, Díaz 1976).



Euphorbia canariensis L.

The sap is irritating to the human eye (Lampe & Fagerström 1968, Grant 1974).

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay; Lin & Kinghorn (1983) reported the presence of ingenol and 16-hydroxyingenol esters in the latex of this species.



Euphorbia candelabrum Trémaut var candelabrum
(syn. Euphorbia ingens E.Mey.)

Pammel (1911) lists the species as being irritant. Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962), referring to Euphorbia ingens, noted that the latex produces irritation and blistering of the skin. Roe & Field (1965) noted that Euphorbia ingens was examined as a possible source of natural rubber but it proved to be too irritant to handle on a large scale. The wood produced dermatitis in workers who used it to make caskets in Somalia (Lipparoni 1951).

The sap is very irritating to the human eye, producing intense pain and temporary blindness (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962), but not particularly so to the rabbit eye (Lampe & Fagerström 1968, Grant 1974).

Opferkuch & Hecker (1974) identified a series of ingenol esters from Euphorbia ingens (the species from which the name ingenol is derived), and demonstrated their skin irritancy on mouse ears. Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex of Euphorbia candelabrum in a mouse ear irritancy assay, and subsequently reported the presence of ingenol esters in the plant (Evans & Kinghorn 1977).



Euphorbia caput medusae L.
Medusa's Head

The latex is said to be highly acrid and irritant (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).



Euphorbia caracasana Boiss.

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia cattimandoo W. Elliot
(syn. Euphorbia trigona Roxb.)

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



Euphorbia chamissonis Boiss.
Beach Spurge

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



Euphorbia characias L. ssp characias
(syn. Tithymalus characias Hill)

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of latex samples obtained from this taxon in a mouse ear irritancy assay.



Euphorbia characias L. ssp wulfenii A.R. Smith
(syns Euphorbia wulfenii Hoppe, Euphorbia veneta Willd.)

Pammel (1911) lists Euphorbia wulfenii as being irritant.

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of latex samples obtained from this taxon in a mouse ear irritancy assay.



Euphorbia coerulescens Haw.
Blue Euphorbia

The presence of irritant phorbol and 12-deoxyphorbol esters in this thorny succulent species was reported by Evans et al. (1975), Evans & Kinghorn (1975b), and Evans (1978).



Euphorbia collina Philippe

This species is said to be dangerous to the eyes, but this is said of all Chilean plants with milky juice (von Reis Altschul 1973).



Euphorbia cooperi N.E. Br.

This species is a tree-like succulent grown as a garden plant in Australia. It is often loosely described as a cactus even though it is spineless.

The latex is irritant to the skin and eyes and can cause blindness (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962); washing with water will not remove the irritant latex (Everist 1962). On tender skin, even a slight smear produces a blister within a short time. If a person stands within close proximity to a bleeding plant, inhalation of the air from the neighbourhood produces a burning sensation in the throat (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

The irritants of this species are 12-deoxy-16-hydroxyphorbol esters (Gschwendt & Hecker 1970, 1973). Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) also demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay.



Euphorbia corallioides L.

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 corollata L.
Snakesmilk, Milkweed, Flowering Spurge

The juice produces vesication (Gray 1879). Coulter (1904) carried out an irritancy test on human skin with a positive result. Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia cotinifolia L.
(syn. Tithymalus cotinifolius Haw.)
Red Spurge, Poison Spurge, Manchineel, Manzanillo, Yerba Mala, Yerba Lechera, Barrabás

This Central American species is condemned as poisonous but is extensively planted for hedges in Guatemala City (Standley 1927). The foliage causes blisters in animals (except goats) who eat it (Blohm 1962). Morton (1962a) noted that because of its attractive dark red foliage, this shrub was introduced into the nursery trade in Florida, but some who planted it as a hedge had it removed because it was a prime contact poison. Morton (1962a) further asserted that simply touching the leaves can produce an overall rash in sensitive individuals; and that the milky sap is highly irritant and capable of producing intense inflammation and blistering on skin contact and, in the eye, at least temporary blindness. Many other authors refer to the skin irritant properties of the milky sap from this plant, including Pammel 1911, Standley 1937b, Dahlgren & Standley 1944, and Morton (1981).

Angelo Rizzo (1971) noted that the latex is not very irritating to the eyes and skin of mice, but is very irritating to the eyes and skin of man and dog.

Hirota et al. (1980) have found ingenol esters in this species.



Euphorbia cotinoides Miq.

Pammel (1911) lists this species as being irritant.



Euphorbia cyathophora Murray
Dwarf Poinsettia

This species is reportedly irritant to mucous surfaces (Everist 1972) and to the skin (Souder 1963).



Euphorbia cyparissias L.
(syn. Tithymalus cyparissias Lam.)
Cypress Spurge, Yellow Flowering Spurge

The seed oil is purgative (Gillot 1927b) and the bruised root will irritate the skin (Pammel 1911). Tithymalus cyparissias has been reported to produce a severe local reaction in the eye, characterised by iridocyclltis and hypopyon (Duke-Elder & MacFaul 1972b, Grant 1974).

Kinghorn & Evans (1975a) demonstrated the irritancy of the latex in a mouse ear irritancy assay. Ott & Hecker (1981) reported the presence of 13-hydroxyingenol esters in this species.




Richard J. Schmidt [Valid HTML 4.01!]



[2D-QR coded url]
url