Euphorbia excelsa

Botanical name

Euphorbia excelsa

Other names

Olifants River euphorbia; olifantsriviernaboom (Afrikaans)




A spiny, succulent tree of occasionally up to 10 m in height with a compact rounded crown of stem tips

Description of stem

Vertical ridges occur on the single erect stem, indicating where the branches had fallen; whitish bark longitudinally fissured on the main stem among the young stem branches; the young stems are quadrangular, curving up in a regular candelabrum fashion, yellow-green to blue-green, smooth surfaces with sharp spines on the four ridges; they emerge in a whorl or regular ring at regular intervals along the stem; they are narrowed at regular intervals corresponding with the growth season length added

Description of leaves

Absent as the rudimentary leaves fall early

Description of flowers

Greenish-yellow occurring in summer into autumn; the four bracts on the cyme stalk are distinctive of this species as the other tree euphorbia species have only two

Desciption of seed/fruit

Three-lobed capsule from the end of summer and in autumn

Description of roots




Propagation and cultivation



Drought resistant


Occasional garden plant

Ecological rarity

Not threatened in its habitat, although only occurring in a limited area

Pests and diseases





Dry rocky slopes in summer rainfall areas

Distribution (SA provinces)



South Africa