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EUPHORBIA TIRUCALLI

DISTRIBUTION

Succulent shrub common in the livestock rearing areas of Arusha, Dodoma, Mwanza, and Singida where it is planted as a boma and live fence (RSCU 1992). E. tirucalli is widely distributed, and adaptable to a range of sites, including marginal, drought prone zones.

Minimum Altitude (m):

0

Maximum Altitude (m):

1500

Minimum Rainfall (mm):

250

Maximum Rainfall (mm):

1000

Rain Months:

4

Minimum Temperature (C):

9

Maximum Temperature (C):

37

REQUIREMENTS

Soil Requirements: Prefers a wide variety of light-textured, neutral to acidic soils. Requires good drainage with available water table (Webb 1984).

Light Requirements: Demanding.

Influential Factors: Drought hardy and frost tender. The tree is not resistant to fire but is fairly safe from grazing animals. E. tirucalli does not compete with crops.

PROPAGATION

Means of Propagation: Cuttings and seed.

Seedling Management: Live fences can be established from cuttings. Cut fresh branches from a healthy bush. Take care to avoid direct contact with the milky sap, which can cause skin irritation. Plant at the onset of the rainy season in shallow trenches about 20 cm deep where water can collect. It can also be propagated easily from seed.

SILVICULTURE

Planting Types: Planted as a low, live boma hedge and windbreak in dry areas and livestock rearing areas. It is used mainly along boundaries, enclosing dwellings, fields and swamps, along tracks, roads, and waterways.

Growth Factors: Medium to fast growing.

Limitations to Planting: E. tirucalli is unpleasant to handle. The latex is very poisonous and dangerous to the eyes (human milk is a remedy). It harbours rodents.

Management Systems: Trim and top prune to make a hedge.

IMPORTANT USES

Use #1: LIVE FENCES
It is widely used both in towns and in rural areas for hedges, fences, windbreaks, and to stabilize structures for soil conservation. It is commonly used in Dodoma region for these purposes.

Use #2: MEDICINE
The roots are boiled and the juice is consumed for sterility problems in women and to treat snakebites. It is also used to treat sore throats and stomach ailments. The latex is very irritating to the skin and can cause temporary blindness. Several deaths have been attributed to the use of E. tirucalli for medicinal purposes (Westman Draft).

Use #3: POISON
In Tanzania the plant is well-known as a fish poison and insect repellent for ants and mosquitos. The latex is an effective arrow poison as it causes irritation at the wound which enhances absorption of the poison and acts as a cohesive (Westman Draft). Its toxicity is thought to deter intruders when it is planted as a hedge around the home.


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