Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit. in Ann. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. 19: 390, t. 19. 1812; Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 5: 239. 1887. Euphorbia tithymaloides L., Sp. Pl. 453. 1753. as per Flora of India;
commonly known as: adjutant’s hedge, christmas candle, devil’s backbone, Japanese poinsettia, redbird cactus, slipper spurge • Hindi: विलायती शेर vilayti sher • Marathi: निवल nival • Telugu: kanchipala, nalla mandu, seema-chitramulamu ;
It is “non-browseable” so we had a line of these plants near the barbed wire fence; Commonly
grown in … along hedges and rockeries; 

Euphorbia tithymaloides is native to tropical and subtropical North America and Central America.

It prefers soil that is sandy, well-drained, and nutrient-rich, particularly with higher concentrations of boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.[9][10] It is relatively intolerant of high soil salinity levels, but exhibits saline tolerance if well fertilized.[10] The plant tends to be taller and have more biomass if it is well-watered.[10] The plant requires a sunny area to grow in.[9]
The shrub can grow to 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) in height and generally is about 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 cm) in width.[11] The leaf is a simple angiosperm leaf, arranged oppositely on the stem.[2][11] Each leaf is sessile (attaching directly to the plant), and about 1.4 to 3 inches (3.6 to 7.6 cm) in length.[2][11] The leaves are glabrous (smooth) and acuminate in shape, with entire (smooth) edges.[2][11] The veins in the leaves are pinnate.[2][11]
The plant terminates in a dichotomous cyme, with a peduncle supporting each flower.[2][11] The floral leaves are bifid (split in two parts) and ovate, while the involucral bracts are bright red, irregularly acuminate in shape (e.g., like a slipper), and about 0.043 to 0.051 inches (1.1 to 1.3 mm) in length with a long, thin tube.[2][11] The flower is void of scent.[12] The male pedicel is hairy, while the female is glabrous.[11] The seed pod is about 0.30 inches (7.6 mm) long and 0.35 inches (8.9 mm) wide, and ovoid in shape (with truncated ends).[11] The plant generally flowers in mid-spring.[2]
The roots, stems, and leaves of the plant are known to be toxic.[4][16]
(From Wikipedia on 2.7.13)

request for identification – 03012011PC3:
Please identify this plant. Is it a member of Euphorbiaceae?
Cultivated, photographed on side of Lodi road, New Delhi.
Same plant has the green as well as variegated branches. Only a narrow region along the leaf margin is colourless. When sectioned the colourless part had cells without or very few green chloroplasts while the green parts of some leaves have green chloroplasts in all the mesophyll cells, some other leaves have green chloroplasts only in the middle region with the pallisade and lower spongy parenchyma layers devoid of them and some other leaves have green chloroplasts in all the cells except the pallisade layers.
Any idea how the colourless cells form only at the margins?

Pedilanthus tithymaloides.. two varieties.

Pedilanthus tithymaloides or devils backbone


2 pictures for you:
This flower pictures I took, in Nature camp to Sunderban with BNHS
from 29 December to 1st Jan,2011
Date/Time-     29.12.10—–1.30 pm
Location- Place, Altitude, GPS—— Sunderban , West Bengal
Habitat- Garden/ Urban/ Wild/ Type————Island
 Plant Habit- Tree/ Shrub/ Climber/ Herb——–
Height/Length—- 1.5 meter

–  It is Pedilanthus tithymaloides.



Botanical name : Pedilanthus tithymaloides
Place               :  Sanjay Gandhi National Park  (Thane end)
Date                 :  May 2009
Others             :  Attracts nectar loving birds

– The correct accepted name as per
Kew Plant List is Euphobia tithymaloides L. The synonyms are as follows:
Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit
Pedilanthus tithymaloides subsp. tithymaloides
Tithymalus tithymaloides (L.) Croizat

– This plant is commonly known as devils backbone .. I really dont know why?

– Its called backbone may be just because of its structure which is zigzag and similar to our backbone when we curve down and devil’s may be because it is poisonous. But thats just a speculation.

– I have also heard it called as Jacob’s Ladder.

Jacob’s ladder is actually a mythological ladder which leads to heaven. This may sound hilarious, but may be it is so poisonous that it will straight away lead you to heaven, hence it is named that way!!! and of course the stem is zigzag like a ladder.

– I do know that it is “non-browseable” so we had a line of these plants near the barbed wire fence thro which the goats used to try to eat the marigold plants at Alto-Chicalim in Goa (off Vasco.)

– Good, I knew it is poisonous.  I was planning to plant a cutting of the plant.


Pedilanthus tithymaloides. Euphorbiaceae

– Kindly also note as mentioned in .. post of the same plant yesterday, the current accepted name as per Kew Plant List is Euphorbia tithymaloides L.

– This is a most common hedge plant in Chennai,  as it does not need much watering.

Euphorbiaceae Week: Euphorbia tithymaloides from Delhi:
Euphorbia tithymaloides L.,  Sp. pl. 1:453. 1753
syn: Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit.
A succulent shrub with leaves often shedding in dry spell, commonly grown in Delhi along hedges and rockeries.
Common names: devil’s-backbone, Japanese-poinsettia, milkbush, redbird-cactus, redbird-flower, slipper-flower, slipperplant 

Euphorbia tithymaloides f. variegata from Delhi. This variegated form is some times grown in Delhi.


Extracting Nectar from an unlikely plant…:
The Variegated Devil’s backbone (Euphorbia tithymaloides or Pedilanthus tithymaloides)- this is a plant with a milky sap, originally from Central America . Whenever I used to see the tiny flowers on these plants growing at home I used to wonder whether they had any nectar in them. I was fairly sure that no bird would come near these flowers. But nature has her own ways and I was very surprised to see a purple sunbird extracting nectar from it… Lesson learnt 🙂
The Latin name of this plant Pedilanthus tithymaloides variegata means “slipper flower” or “foot-shaped flower,”
The Wikipedia tells me the following:
Common names in english: buck-thorn, cimora misha, Christmas Candle, Devil’s Backbone,Fiddle Flower, ipecacuahana, Jacob’s Ladder, Japanese Poinsettia, Jew’s Slipper,Jewbush, Milk-Hedge, Myrtle-Leaved Spurge, Padus-Leaved Clipper Plant, Red Slipper Spurge, Redbird Cactus, Redbird Flower, Slipper Flower, Slipper Plant, Slipper Spurge,timora misha, and Zig-Zag Plant
Other languages: gin-ryu(Japan); pokok lipan and penawar lipan (Indonesia); airi, baire, and agia (India); aperejo (Yoruba); sapatinho do diablo (Brazil); itamo real (Puerto Rico); pantoufle (France); and zapatilla del diablo (Mexico).
p.s. A google image search for ‘plants with milky sap’ finally led me to the names of this plant…

Date/Time-Sep 2011
Location-Place, Altitude, GPS-Pune
Habitat- Garden/ Urban/ Wild/ Type-Garden
Plant Habit-Tree/ Shrub/ Climber/ Herb- Herb
Height/Length- about a foot
Leaves Type/ Shape/ Size-Variegated
Flowers and fruits not seen

Euphorbia tithymaloides (syn: Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit.)

Pedilanthus tithymaloides, dont miss the flowers in the next season (mid summer season). they are very typically shaped.

Ornamental Plant for ID : Oman : 280912 : AK-1:
A very common cultivated, garden, potted plant seen in one of the plant nurseries in Muscat.

Have this plant in our home garden in Nasik too.
Also at the Flower Show in Mumbai.
Never seen it flower.
Pictures taken today.

Pedilanthus tithymaloides

Thanks for the id. On searching, I found its id as Euphorbia tithymaloides ‘Nana’, Syn Pedilanthus tithymaloides ‘Nana’.

because of crooked growth of each subsequent segment or node its also known in colloquial terms as devil’s back bone… also comes in variegated leaf form


030212 BRS 303: 
Pl. find the attached file contain photos for id. request.

Date: 02.02.2012
Location: NBNP. Anaikatti, Coimbatore
Habitat: Garden
Habit: Shrub

Pedilanthus tithymaloides

Pedilanthus tithymaloides for me too


Hooghly Today : Euphorbia tithymaloides L.:
This seems to be the Pedilanthus tithymaloides Poit. of Bengal Plants and F. B. I. [Euphorbia tithymaloides L. of GRIN and The Plant List; Pedilanthus tithymaloides (Linnaeus) Poiteau of FoC], a common hedge plant in rural home-yard, but with very few flowers, and that too can only be seen on one or two individuals.

Nice details …, I support your ID.

Initially i was hesitant, for google gave me many flowered plants, but then those are cultivated for ornamental.

I know it as devil’s back bone and it never flowers in a pot in the balcony.
In west Bengal driving around I have seen it growing wild near ponds…
It is a succulent, yet by the ponds nature bothered me
today googling for the poper name I got to know that it grows well and tall if it get enough water, reading the wiki essay.

I also noticed that it never flowers, both in the wild or when it is used in hedges. I see them in many places, near my house also, but i know where i could find only one or two flowering ones, near my school.

Flowering is seasonal. Very common in Chennai gardens as hedge / border plant.


Plant ID : Attachments (1). 3 posts by 3 authors.
Can you please identify the plant in the photo attached.
Medicinal herb
Sri Lanka

Pedilanthus tithymaloides nanus

Supporting …


230713 ASP 125 : Attachments (1). 3 posts by 3 authors.
Please ID this succulent plant. Euphorbiaceae ? Photo was taken in Sri Lanka in Dec 2012.

pedilanthus tithymaloides

Pedilanthus tithymaloides. Check this link for the beautiful flowers of this plant species.


Euphorbiaceae fortnight::Pedilanthus tithymaloides::mm4 : Attachments (1). 2 posts by 2 authors.
Pedilanthus tithymaloides
Elephanta Caves, of the coast of Mumbai

Correct identity.

Euphorbiaceae fortnight :: Euphorbia tithymaloides in gardens :: DV52 : 5 images. 2 posts by 2 authors.
Euphorbia tithymaloides L. … popular synonym: Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit.
Native to tropical and subtropical North America and Central America; cultivated elsewhere.
in gardens of Thane and Mumbai 

Pedilanthus tithymaloides.



Euphorbiaceae Fortnight : Pedilanthus tithymaloidenese (Japanese Poinsettia)- Sanjay Gandhi National Park: MN7 :  1 image. 3 posts by 3 authors.
Pedilanthus tithymaloidenese (Japanese Poinsettia)


“Euphobiaceae fortnight : Pedilanthus tithymaloides from Coimbatore BRS 010 :  Attachments (3). 2 posts by 2 authors.
Sharing the images of Pedilanthus tithymaloides from Anaikatti, Coimbatore.

Wanted to share this common garden shrub.. was shot from a village community garden in Punjab…
Pedilanthes tithymaloides

Yes. your identification is correct.


Euphorbiaceae Fortnight : 05112013 ARK-16 : Euphorbia tithymaloides from Mumbai – February 2013 : Attachments (3). 5 posts by 3 authors.
Attached are pictures of Euphorbia tithymaloides from various gardens in Mumbai in February 2013.

Euphorbiaceae fortnight :: 05112013MR18 Pedilanthus tithymaloides from Pune –MR18 :  Attachments (1). 3 posts by 2 authors.
Pedilanthus tithymaloides from Pune

Euphorbia tithymaloides L.,  Sp. pl. 1:453. 1753
syn: Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit. 
A succulent shrub with leaves often shedding in dry spell, commonly grown in Delhi along hedges and rockeries.
Common namesdevil’s-backboneJapanese-poinsettiamilkbushredbird-cactusredbird-flowerslipper-flowerslipperplant 

Euphorbiaceae Fortnight: Euphorbia tithymaloides f. variegata from Delhi-GS-49 : Attachments (1). 2 posts by 2 authors.
Euphorbia tithymaloides f. variegata from Delhi. This variegated form is some times grown in Delhi.

Yes, this is a variegated cultivar. of Euphorbia tithymaloides.

Euphorbiaceae Fortnight : Euphorbia tithymaloides ‘Nana’ : 101113 : AK-69 : Attachments (1). 3 posts by 2 authors.
Euphorbia tithymaloides ‘Nana’ seen at a plant nursery in Muscat.

Yes, it seems to be Euphorbia tithymaloides L. [Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit.]. However, flowers are needed to confirm it.

EUPHORBIACEAE FORTNIGHT :: Euphorbia tithymaloides :: SMP 38 :  2 images. 2 posts by 2 authors.
Euphorbia tithymaloides Flowers.

Yes, this is Euphorbia tithymaloides, which is also called Pedilanthus tithymaloides


Euphorbiaceae Fortnight : Pedilanthus tithymaloides ‘Variegata’ : 131113 : AK-82 : Attachments (6). 5 posts by 3 authors.
Sharing pictures of Pedilanthus tithymaloides ‘Variegata’… taken from various places in Muscat.
The first picture is the normal one, not variegated.

Nice photos.

Rajgad, Sep 2014 :: Requesting ID of this plant :: ARKSEP-23 : 3 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (3).
Requesting to please ID this plant captured at Rajgad near Pune in Sep 2014.
Not sure whether this was cultivated or wild because this was at the base of the mountain near a house.

It is Euphorbia tithymaloides L. (= Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit), ornamental herb

Thank you … for the ID..

I thought as much but was confused because of the dark green colour of the leaves.
The plants in Mumbai here are very light green and white, I guess, variegated.
Can this be a growing wild there?

Ornamental-3 for ID from Pantnagar: DSR_Nov. 2016_3/3 : 4 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (2)
This perennial succulent herb resembles to Pedilanthus tithymaloides (Euphorbiaceae) but also look different.
Please suggest the correct ID.

Looks Pedilanthus tithymaloides only.

Thank you … for this ID. For me identification of ornamentals is tricky as they show a lot of variations intentionally selected in horticulture/ agriculture. Taking it as P.tithymaloides (Euphorbiaceae).

Euphorbia tithymaloides L. (accepted name) : 3 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (3)
Location: Nuwakot , Nepal
Altitude:  3200 ft.
Date: 25 April 2015
Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit. (synonym)

Better treated under the Neotropical genus Pedilanthus Neck., nom. cons.


Euphorbia tithymaloides for ID : Nasik : 11MAY19 : AK-10 : 3 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (2)
Seen at a plant nursery in Nasik. 
Would this be Pedilanthus tithymaloides sspsmallii ‘Variegatus‘?
Experts kindly confirm.

Euphorbia tithymaloides ‘Variegatus’ (Variegated Devil’s Backbone)
Correct id from my opinion.

Thanks. This is the Dwarf form, not the regular plant.

Thanks … This is the Dwarf form.


Succulent for id : 4 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (2)
Request for identification of a succulent from Mahe. Photographed in October 2019.

Euphorbia tithymaloides L.
Syn : Pedilanthus tithymaloides (L.) Poit.


303 ID wild plant: 11 images.
Please ID wild plant,
Location: near Reserve Forest, Chathamattom, Ernakulam District, (Kochi) Kerala PIN:686671
Altitude: 1400fsl
Flower date: 27.03.2022, 01.50pm
Habitat: wild, moisture, wasteland, growing as plant fencing
Plant habit: creeping/erect/obliquely, branches, weak cylindrical zig-zag stem 01.5cm base diameter, latex, perennial
Height: 03 feet
Leaves: alternate, ovate, apex, soft fleshy, glossy, wavy margins, latex, size:12×6cm
Flower: terminous racemose, clustered, size:02×0.4×0.3mm, pink, non fragrant
Camera: CANON EOS1500D +rr

Euphorbia tithymaloides L.

Yes, it is Pedilanthus tithymaloides, dear …, thank you very much for ID my plant. Sharing an image,

Yes ! That is syn.

Yes. It is a cultivated plant especially for hedges. I have this plant in my home garden.

Thanks, …, for the wonderful images.
But I think, it is not wild.

Thank you very much for ID my plant and the great appreciation. Here it is growing as wild,


Euphorbia tithymaloides L. :: Thane, Maharashtra :: Mar 15, 2008 · JUN23 DV525: 2 images.

Euphorbia tithymaloides L.
Thane, Maharashtra :: Mar 15, 2008 · 5:18 PM IST :: about 11 m (36 ft) asl



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