Penciltree (Common name)

General Poisoning Notes:

Penciltree (Euphorbia tirucalli) is an attractive indoor ornamental tree. The plant contains caustic and irritant chemicals in the latex which cause reactions with the skin, mucous membranes, and the eyes. Severe burning and inflammation result after the latex comes into contact with the skin. Ingestion causes burning and irritation of the mouth and stomach, accompanied by pain and perhaps diarrhea. Apparently, injudicious medicinal use of the latex of this plant has caused fatalities in East Africa (Fuller and McClintock 1986). Family pets should not be allowed to ingest the plant.

References:

  • Crowder, J. I., Sexton, R. R. 1964. Keratoconjunctivitis resulting from the sap of candelebra cactus and the pencil tree. Arch. Opthalmol., 72: 476-484.
  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Euphorbia tirucalli L.
Vernacular name(s):
penciltree
Scientific family name:
Euphorbiaceae
Vernacular family name:
spurge

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Euphorbia tirucalli

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada, Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or Illustration

Images: Penciltree - Google search

Toxic Parts:

  • latex

References:

  • Fürstenberger, G., Hecker, E. 1986. On the active principles of the Euphorbiaceae, XII. Highly unsaturated irritant diterpene esters from Euphorbia tirucalli originating from Madagascar. J. Nat. Prod. (Lloydia), 49: 386-397.

Notes on Toxic Plant Chemicals:

Toxic ingenol and 4-deoxyingenol are diterpenes that have been isolated from the latex of penciltree (Frohne and Pfander 1983; Fürstenberger and Hecker 1986).

Toxic Plant Chemicals:

  • 4-deoxyingenol

References:

  • Fürstenberger, G., Hecker, E. 1986. On the active principles of the Euphorbiaceae, XII. Highly unsaturated irritant diterpene esters from Euphorbia tirucallioriginating from Madagascar. J. Nat. Prod. (Lloydia), 49: 386-397.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Humans

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

Notes on Poisoning:

Penciltree latex causes keratoconjunctivitis if it gets into the eyes. The symptoms include immediate burning pain of the eyeball and eyelids, tearing, and photophobia. These symptoms are followed by 8-12 h of chemosis of the lids and conjunctiva, with blurred vision and increased pain. Erosion of the corneal epithelium, decreased visual acuity, and corneal edema occur (Crowder and Sexton 1964).

References:

  • Crowder, J. I., Sexton, R. R. 1964. Keratoconjunctivitis resulting from the sap of candelebra cactus and the pencil tree. Arch. Opthalmol., 72: 476-484.

Another search?