An exotic foliage favourite, the Devil's backbone, or Jew Bush is native of the warm-weather, sub-tropical regions of Central and North America that is a fun succulent to grow indoors and makes for a nice patio plant outdoors.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia tithymaloides (until recently known asPedilanthus tithymaloides)
Common Names: Christmas candle, Devil's backbone, Redbird cactus, Jew bush
Flower Colours:white, green, red, or pink bracts (that may look like flowers), andplants grown indoors rarely bloom
Bloom Time: grown for foliage
Foliage:light-green and white;lance-shapedand thick on wiry, zigzagstems
Maximum Reachable Height: 18 to 24 inches
Difficulty to Grow: easy
Care: grows best in warm and frost-free climates
Sunlight:needs bright light
Soil: regular but well-drained
Water: Allow soil to dry between thorough waterings.
Temperature: needs warm temperatures to grow well
Fertiliser:Use a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during active growth.
All parts of this plant contain a milky sap that can irritate skin and may be harmful if eaten.
Take care to put the plant where it won't be in contact with children and pets.
Wear garden gloves when pruning or transplanting to avoid possible skin irritation.
Culinary Use: NA
Ornamental Use:Its zigzag stems give it a distinct look.
The root is known to be a powerful emetic.
A proteolytic enzyme known as pedilanthain can be extracted from the plant's latex, and has been shown in experiments to be effective against intestinal worms and to reduce inflammation when ingested.
In 1995, a galactose-specific lectin was purified from the plant's latex, and indications are that it might be useful in combatting diabetes mellitus.
In folk medicine, tea has been brewed from the leaves which has been used to treat asthma, persistent coughing, laryngitis, mouth ulcers, and venereal disease.
Tea brewed from the root has been used as an abortifacient.
The latex has been used topically to treat calluses, ear ache, insect stings, ringworm, skin cancer, toothache, umbilical hernias, and warts.
In the West Indies, a few drops of the latex is added to milk and used as an emetic.
NOTE: None of these uses has been scientifically verified as effective.