Euphorbia milii

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Euphorbia milii
Euphorbia Milii flowers.jpg
Christ thorn flowers in full bloom, with new leaves emerging.jpg
Christ thorn (large)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Euphorbia
E. milii
Binomial name
Euphorbia milii

Euphorbia milii, the crown of thorns, Christ plant, or Christ thorn, called Corona de Cristo in Latin America (coroa-de-cristo in Brazil), is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family Euphorbiaciae, native to Madagascar. The species name commemorates Baron Milius, once Governor of Réunion, who introduced the species to France in 1821.[2] It is imagined that the species was introduced to the Middle East in ancient times, and legend associates it with the crown of thorns worn by Christ.[2]


It is a succulent subshrub or shrub growing to 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) tall, with densely spiny stems. The straight, slender spines, up to 3 cm (1.2 in) long, help it scramble over other plants. The leaves are found mainly on new growth,[2] and are up to 3.5 cm (1.4 in) long and 1.5 cm (0.59 in) broad. The flowers are small, subtended by a pair of conspicuous petal-like bracts, variably red, pink or white, up to 12 mm (0.47 in) broad.[3] The sap is moderately poisonous, and causes irritation on contact with skin or eyes. If ingested, it causes severe stomach pain, irritation of the throat and mouth, and vomiting. The poisonous ingredients have been identified as phorbol esters.[4] Wat Phrik in Thailand claims to be the home of the world's tallest Christ thorn plant.[5] Euphorbia milii can be propagated from cuttings.[6]

Mutation in Crown of thorns


E. milii is a variable species, and several varieties have been described; some of these are treated as distinct species by some authors.[3] E. milii var. splendens (syn. E. splendens) is considered to be the living embodiment of the supreme deity in Bathouism, a minority religion practiced by the Bodo people of Eastern India and Nepal.


E. milii is not hardy, and does not tolerate temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F). In temperate areas it needs to be grown under glass in full sun. During the summer it may be placed outside in a sheltered spot, when all risk of frost is absent. The species[7]and the variety E. milii var. splendens[8] have both gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[9]



  1. ^ Haevermans, T. (2004). "Euphorbia milii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2004: e.T44389A10889790. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Ombrello, Dr T., Crown of Thorns, Plant of the Week, UCC Biology Department, archived from the original on 17 September 2009, retrieved 1 October 2009
  3. ^ a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. ISBN 978-0-333-47494-5.
  4. ^ "Crown-of-Thorns (Euphorbia milii)". Veterinary Medicine Library. University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Archived from the original on 2017-03-23. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Complete Guide to Houseplants. Meredith Publishing Group.
  7. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Euphorbia milii". Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  8. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Euphorbia milii var. splendens". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  9. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 35. Retrieved 16 February 2018.