Euphorbia virosa, commonly the gifboom (poison tree) in Afrikaans, may be single-stemmed with a twist or spiral that can be seen in the ridges on the main stem. It may also be multi-stemmed from ground level, or form clumps of several stems growing close together with a densely integrated root system. The branches higher up do not normally spiral. The shrub or small tree can reach 3 m. in height. Stems have four to eight ridges that are densely populated by pairs of spines.
As with many euphorbias the milky latex exuded by the plant when damaged is poisonous. This one’s latex is extremely dangerous as it was one of the plants used by the Bushmen for poisoning their arrow tips when hunting game.
The plants are found in the Richtersveld and western areas just south of the Orange River, in Namibia and Angola (www.cactus-mall.com).