Euphorbia tirucalli L. (Euphorbiaceae) – The miracle tree: Current status of available knowledge
Damme, Van Patrick
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Euphorbia tirucalli is one of the most important tree Euphorbias known worldwide for its many uses. Endemic to tropical Africa where it often grows wild, it is usually planted for boundary demarcation but also as a live fence around compounds, shrines and kraals due to its ability to withstand extreme aridity and possession of low herbivore pressure. E. tirucalli has white latex which is vesicant and rubifacient but also known to be a remedy against many ailments. However, most of its medicinal features are reported in folk medicine and there appears to be little medical/laboratory analysis to validate them. In this review, we attempt to explore the current knowledge status about E. tirucalli in relation to its classification, chemical content and functions, and the extent to which modern research has gone to validate them. It was found that although a great deal has been done to analyze its chemical composition (bark, roots and latex), and potential for biodiesel production, little is available on validation of its application for medicinal purposes, yet it continues to be used in traditional and alternative medicine on a daily basis. Empirical research is called for to achieve this.