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Products > Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'
Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' - Red Pencil Tree

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurges)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Insignificant
Bloomtime: Not Significant
Synonyms: [e. 'Firesticks']
Height: 4-8 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 30-32 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' (Red Pencil Tree) - This very striking succulent shrub is a form of Euphorbia tirucalli, a plant that eventually can grow to 25 feet tall by 8 to 10 feet wide. 'Sticks on Fire' lacks the chlorophyll of the parent plant and, as such, is much slower growing and probably will never obtain the same size. The largest plants we have seen of this cultivar have been under 12 feet tall and typically 'Sticks on Fire' is seen more in the 6 to 8 foot range. The many branches on this interesting tree are as thin as pencils and a reddish-golden color with small leaves that are inconspicuous and soon drop. The color tends to fade closer to yellow in the summer, and becomes redder in the winter and color is always best when grown in full sun. It is drought tolerant but reliably cold hardy not much below 30 degrees F, depending on the duration. Be very careful when handling this plant as the stems break easily and the milky sap can burn the skin or cause welts if one is sensitive to it and certainly is not something to get into the eyes. When working with this plant use protective googles and if you do get it in the eyes seek medical attention promptly. For this reason this plant should also not be planted near paths or locations where a casual visitor to the garden might accidentally come in contact with it. The species Euphorbia tirucalli is native to a wide range from Madagascar north through tropical and subtropical Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and India. It was first described by Linnaeus in 1753 with the specific epithet taken from the Indian Malayalam names 'tiru' meaning "good" and 'kalli' a name for any of the Euphorbia in reference to some medicinal qualities of the plant. We first got this cultivar from the late great plantsman, Gary Hammer, who brought a couple cuttings back from a trip to South Africa in the late 1980s and later dubbed the plant 'Sticks on Fire'. This plant has been popular ever since, particularly after people viewed a mass planting in the Central Garden at the Getty Center. We have also seen this name shortened by some nurseries to 'Firesticks' and it is also been called Euphorbia tirucalli 'Rosea'. We have sold this plant since first offering it in 1995.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire'.