African Milk Tree

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Common Name: African Milk Tree, Luck Plant, Cathedral Cactus, Abyssinian Euphorbia
Botanical Name: Euphorbia trigona 'Rubra'

These fiery cactus columns are living glowing beacons, directing you in the right direction -- to living on "easy street" with indoor plants! These low-maintenance drought-loving Euphorbias need very little water, and a lot of indirect light to prosper and grow. African Milk Tree 'Rubra' produces maroon tinged leaves between its spines tall along the stems. Cold temperatures and relocating established plants may cause their leaves to drop. New leaves will re-grow once you have found a permanent place with ample sunlight (more than 6 hours a day!)

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As Euphorbia Trigona Rubra are not genuine cacti, extreme sun exposure won't be tolerated by this indoor plant! As these plants are rooted back in Central Africa, they can deal with and adapt to the sun and heat. These plants love lots of bright light. However, even a couple of hours of sunlight will suffice but lower light levels will slow down their growth. If you find that the leaves are growing on only one side of the plant and the plant starts to lean, it is time to bring it closer to the light source! Rotate your African Milk Tree every month to keep its shape balanced and to prevent it from toppling over.


African Milk Tree Rubra is more often mistaken as a cactus, which results in the mistreatment of the plant, like exposing it to too much direct light and giving it less water than it needs! Though the plant has capability of tolerate drought, they do much better when watered regularly, especially during the warmer months. Water the soil when it has completely dried out. It is fine to miss a few days to a week, but never let the soil get so dry that it becomes hard and impenetrable.


Although these indoor plants crave warmer temperatures, they can cope with cool temperatures. Try not to expose them to temperatures below 40°F as they will lose their leaves and their vibrant coloring! The good news is that their leaves will grow back once they are warm and comfortable.


If the air circulation is good, then any humidity in any standard home is a good fit for these plants.


Provide a complete liquid fertilizer diluted to a ¼ strength every two weeks during the plant's active growth period.

Growth Rate

African Milk Tree ‘Rubra’ lives quite a long time like cacti. They can grow up to 8’+ indoor when giving the optimal growing conditions!

Pet Friend or Foe

These plants aren’t toxic, but pets or children can get hurt by sharp spines if they touch them. Foe-ish!

Pro Tips

  1. To bring these indoor plants outside for the summer acclimate them to the sun by exposing them to it gradually for 2 weeks. Start out placing them in the shade, then place them in the sun for a few hours a day until they have adjusted to the direct sun exposure! 
  2. Try to plant them in a heavy container. Otherwise, their top becomes heavy while growing tall, and a wind blow can continuously make them fall on the floor. Try Terracotta pots or heavyweight ceramic to keep them standing up-right.
  3. Use cactus soil when you carefully transplant your African Milk Tree!  

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