Euphorbia lactea f. monstrose
This is a “monstrose” variety of a cactus-like Euphorbia that is native to Asia, especially India. If “monstrose” sounds like a horrifying, twisted mutation, that’s exactly what it is. Well, except that it occurs naturally, and produces growth that many people find appealing. Plants normally have growth points—locations with actively dividing cells where new growth occurs—typically at the ends of branches. But if the growth points occur randomly all over the plant surface, new growth is disorderly, producing rather odd results called monstrose forms. (There are also cristate (crested) forms, where growth occurs in a line, producing fanlike or crested shapes, and the normal form.)
Identification: Plants are shrubs, to 6½' (2 m) tall, creating irregular, folded forms with reddish edges that have inconspicuous, nearly invisible leaves.
Edibility: Poisonous Like other euphorbias, these contain a poisonous milky latex. They can cause nausea and vomiting if eaten, severe eye irritation and temporary blindness, and dermatitis.
Euphorbia lactea f. monstrose on webshots
Euphorbia lactea on CACTUSPEDIA
Euphorbia lactea on Wikipedia
Euphorbia lactea f. cristata (crested form) at Top Tropicals
Euphorbia lactea on Erv Evans' site at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Euphorbia lactea on the USDA Plants Database
Euphorbia lactea on www.botanical-dermatology-database.info
Euphorbia lactea at HEAR: the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project
Euphorbia lactea f. monstrose description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.