It is an erect shrub growing up to 5 metres (16 ft) tall, with succulent branches 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) diameter, ridged, with a triangular or rhombic cross-section; the ridges are spiny, with short spines up to 5 millimetres (0.20 in) long. The leaves are minute, and soon deciduous. All parts of the plant contain a poisonous milky latex. Common names include mottled spurge, frilled fan, elkhorn, candelabra spurge, candelabrum tree, candelabra cactus, candelabra plant, dragon bones, false cactus, hatrack cactus, milkstripe euphorbia, mottled candlestick.
It is used medicinally in India. It is widely grown as an ornamental plant, both in the tropics, and as a houseplant in temperate regions; a number of cultivars have been selected for ornamental use, notably 'Cristata' with frilled branching.
- Huxley, A, ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. ISBN 0-333-47494-5
- Poisonous plants: Euphorbia lactea Archived 2009-06-03 at the Wayback Machine
- "Euphorbia lactea". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 16 January 2018.
- Plant of the Week.org Euphorbia lactea
- Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk: Euphorbia lactea