Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Euphorbia tirucalli
L., Euphorbiaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 11 (Go to the risk assessment).

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: lü yu shu

English: African milkbush, bone bush, finger tree, Indian tree-spurge, milk bush, milk hedge, milkbush, milkhedge, naked lady, pench tree, pencil bush, pencil plant, pencil tree, petroleum plant, rubber euphorbia, skeleton tree, tirucalli

French: euphorbe antivenerien

Maori (Cook Islands): ‘āmangamanga

Spanish: aveloz, consuelda, esqueleto

Habit:  tree

Description:  "This ornamental succulent shrub or small tree has abundant white poisonous latex as in other spurges and differs also from cacti in absence of spines.  It is recognized by: (1) many cylindric pencillike fleshy twigs or joints, forking upward; and (2) narrow green leaves 1/2-1 inch long, shedding early and usually absent.

"Shrub or small tree becoming 30 feet high and 6 inches in trunk diameter, with evergreen fleshy or succulent branches but usually leafless, hairless throughout.  Bark dark green, smooth or rough.  Branches many, whorled or sometimes single, curving outward and erect to form an irregular brushlike crown.  The pencillike dull green twigs or joints commonly 3-5 inches long and 1/4 inch in diameter, or only 1/8 inch at the rounded end and becoming 1/2 inch.  The smooth hairless surface often has many fine whitish lines.  White latex, caustic and poisonous, flows from cut surfaces.  Under the surface the twigs are light green, with sour taste.  Leaves few, scattered, alternate, oblanceolate, 1/2-1 inch long, 1/8 inch wide, broadest beyond middle, short-pointed at apex and tapering to stalkless base, slightly thick and succulent, the upper surface dull green, the lower surface paler with faint midvein.  Flower clusters are yellowish heads or balls 1/2-3/4 inch across, stalkless at ends of twigs, composed of many crowded cuplike clusters (involucres) 1/8-3/16 across.  Within are many male flowers each of 1 stamen on a stalk"  (Little et al., 1974; pp. 414-415).

Habitat/ecology:  Commonly planted as an ornamental or hedge plant (Little et al., 1974; pp. 414-415). In Hawai‘i (Kaua‘i), "sparingly naturalized locally as it forms dense thickets along Lawa‘i Road where it is propagating vegetatively" (Lorence et al., 1995; pp. 35-36).

Propagation:  Commonly reproduced from cuttings. Seed?

Native range:  Africa; cultivated and naturalized elsewhere (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Cook Islands
Northern Cook Islands
Penrhyn (Tongareva) Island introduced
cultivated
McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Cook Islands
Northern Cook Islands
Pukapuka Atoll introduced
cultivated
McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
‘Atiu Island introduced
cultivated
McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Mangaia Island introduced
cultivated
McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Ma‘uke Island introduced
cultivated
McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
Rarotonga Island introduced
cultivated
McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Federated States of Micronesia
Pohnpei Islands
Pohnpei Island introduced
cultivated
Herrera, Katherine/Lorence, David H./Flynn, Timothy/Balick, Michael J. (2010) (p. 86)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island introduced
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1981) (p. 571)
Voucher cited: DA 16080
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J. (1997) (p. 66)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka) Island introduced
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Wagner, Warren L. (2013)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Ua Huka (Huahuna, Uahuka) Island   National Tropical Botanical Garden (U.S.A. Hawaii. Kalaheo.) (2003) (voucher ID: PTBG 40864)
Taxon name on voucher: Euphorbia tirucalli
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J. (1997) (p. 66)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Voucher cited: J. Florence 7774 (PAP)
Ornementale commune.
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Raivavae (Raevavae) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J. (1997) (p. 66)
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Raivavae (Raevavae) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Rurutu Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Tubuai Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
cultivated
Stone, Benjamin C. (1970) (p. 377)
Voucher cited: Stone 3915 (GUAM)
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 139)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Parker, James L./Parsons, Bobby (2012) (p. 59)
Voucher cited: J. Parker & R. Parsons, J. Franklin BIED86 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawaiian Islands introduced
cultivated
Little, Elbert L./Woodbury, Roy O./Wadsworth, Frank H. (1974) (p. 414)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Lorence, David H./Flynn, Timothy W./Wagner, Warren L. (1995) (pp. 35-36)
Voucher cited: T. Flynn 3133 (PTBG)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Lau, Alex/Frohlich, Danielle (2013) (p. 7)
Voucher cited: OED 2012032202 (BISH)
Marshall Islands
Ralik Chain
Kwajalein (Kuwajleen) Atoll introduced
cultivated
Whistler, W. A./Steele, O. (1999) (p. 100)
Marshall Islands
Ratak Chain
Majuro (Mãjro) Atoll introduced
cultivated
Vander Velde, Nancy (2003) (p. 94)
Nauru
Nauru Island
Nauru Island introduced
cultivated
Thaman, R. R./Fosberg, F. R./Manner, H. I./Hassall, D. C. (1994) (pp. 131-132)
Voucher cited: Hassall 168
New Caledonia
Îles Loyauté (Loyalte Islands)
Îles Ouvéa (Ouvea Atoll) introduced
cultivated
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 52)
Voucher cited: MacKee 18880
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
cultivated
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 52)
Voucher cited: MacKee 26218
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Babeldaob Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Lorence, David H./LaRosa, Anne Marie (2009) (p. Field notes)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Ngerkebesang Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Lorence, David H./LaRosa, Anne Marie (2009) (p. Field notes)
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Peleliu (Beliliou) Island   Wagner, W. L./ Herbst, D. R./Weitzman, A./Lorence, D.H. (2013)
Philippines
Philippine Islands
Philippine Islands introduced
cultivated
Merrill, Elmer D. (1923) (p. 464)
Occasionally planted in gardens, hedges, etc., but apparently nowhere spontaneous.
United States (other Pacific offshore islands)
Wake Islands
Wake Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 139)
United States (other Pacific offshore islands)
Wake Islands
Wake Island introduced
cultivated
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, M.-H. (1969) (p. 11)
Potted plant.
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna (Horne) Islands
Wallis (‘Uvea) Island introduced
cultivated
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2007) (p. 33)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Cultivated and escaped. Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; also widely cultivated in greenhouses of C. and N. China.
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 181)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 40)
Cultivated only
Taiwan
Taiwan Island
Taiwan Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Cousin Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R. (1983) (p. 33)
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
USA (Florida) introduced
cultivated
Little, Elbert L./Woodbury, Roy O./Wadsworth, Frank H. (1974) (p. 414)

Comments:  Reported as possibly an invasive plant in the Galápagos Islands per Charles Darwin Research Station.


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This page was created on 21 OCT 2004 and was last updated on 29 APR 2013.