Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pencil tree

I've heard many common names for Euphorbia tirucalli but the one I remember best is the "pencil tree". Looking at the branches and stems of the tree, it's understandable how it came to be associated with pencils. The leaves of the plant are found at the end of the newly forming branches and they are quite small. This is an exotic, originally from India. Like most euphorbia plants, it exudes a milky-looking latex that is highly toxic and poisonous. I remember we used to have one of these trees/plants in our backyard many years ago. Eventually we decided to cut it and I remember the latex pouring from every whack of the machete. Someone warned me that I shouldn't come into contact with this liquid because it could blind me if gotten into my eyes. A friend recently told me that he placed a drop of the latex on a wart that was getting in the way when shaving. The wart just disappeared, he reported. Imagine what it would do to the eyes! I saved a cutting of the pencil tree to plant at the Bosque. See attached image. I keep it pruned back because it's right next to the entrance to the Bosque. I have a few warts I'd like to get rid of but I keep forgetting to experiment with the latex.

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