The Pencil Tree Euphorbia tirucalli is a native of Africa, which has naturalized itself in India since thousands of years . Probably brought to India by the Arab traders in the distant past, its name Tirucalli is an Indian name given to it by Linnaeus. The name Euphorbia is in honour of the 1st century physician Euphorbus, who practiced in the court of King Juba of Mauritania.
Tirucalli has very few leaves, since its pencil like green branches photosynthesise its food.The flowers are yellow and insignificant. Its latex is poisonous, so animals do not eat it, making it a favourite hedge plant inthe countryside.
The Pencil Tree has many uses in folk medicine. It is also used to make bio- diesel.
In south India, villagers use it as a plant of good omen in all their auspicious ceremonies.