Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Finger euphorbia, African milkbush, Pencil plant, Rubber-hedge euphorbia Luganda: Nkoni Lugwe: Nkoni Lunyuli: Luhoni Luo A: Kilajok Luo L: Oligo Lusoga: Lukone Rukiga: Nkoni Runyankore: Nkoni, ruyenzhe Runyoro: Rukoni Rutoro: Nkoni.

+ Tree Species

Euphorbia tirucalli

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

A tree of uncertain origin commonly planted in the tropics and subtropics of Asia and Africa. Much associated with human habitation and frequently planted as a live fence.

+ Description

A dense straight-stemmed tree to 6 m or more, the branchlets smooth green, cylindrical in dense masses.

BARK: very old specimens is grey and rough with longitudinal dents and ridges that break up into very small fragments. There are sometimes conspicuous, small protuberances, such as bulges, knobs, or swellings, on the bark, and occasionally black, rough, cross wise bands.

LEAVES: small, present on young stems, soon dropping.

FLOWERS: yellow-cream, small in dense clusters.

FRUIT: 3-part capsules, hard, purple-green, less than 1 cm across.

+ Uses

Medicine: latex, roots, buds, stems, young branches, leaves, and wood. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Euphorbia+tirucalli, https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/bk-2013-1127.ch001

It’s an ornamental tree.

The latex is piscicidal and insecticidal. The plant is also used as an effective repellent for mosquitoes and ants.

Agroforestry: planted to protect sand dunes and bare soil in dry areas from wind and water erosion, effective plant for land reclamation programmes, used hedge plant, boundary demarcation, live fencing around compounds and kraals, and as a windbreak in semi-arid areas.

The sap evidently has strong fixative power: mixed with animal hair it is used for fastening knife-blades to wood handles and spear-heads to shafts.

The biomass can be converted into gas, liquid fuels and solid fuels such as pellets, briquettes and charcoal.

The resin can be used in varnishes for certain purposes in the absence of better materials.

An oil obtained from the latex was formerly used in linoleum, oilskin, and leather cloth industries.

Methane can be produced by anaerobic fermentation of the latex.

The wood is used for toys, rafters and veneers.

The wood is used for fuel and it gives a charcoal suitable for gun-powder, and for the manufacture of fireworks.

The tree can be used for manufacturing rubber substitutes.

The tree is used in cultural connotations e.g. as a sign of starting a new home in Luo culture of East Africa

The latex is also reported to be a hunter's tool applied in local fishing and arrow poisoning in tropical Africa.

+ Propagation

Seeds, cuttings. Cuttings strike easily.

+ Management

Fast growing; coppicing, trimming and top pruning to make a fence.

+ Remarks

Medicine from the plant must be used with extreme care due to its toxicity. Ash from stems and branches is used to treat whooping cough. The latex is very poisonous and harmful to the eyes. Human milk has been reported to be an antidote. Makes a good fence to control erosion.

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