Euphorbia candelabrum

Other languages: (nkukuru, muduha) bondo (luo), kuresyet (kipsigis), ol-pongoni (maasai), mtupa (swahili)

The flowers of Euphorbia candelabrum produce much nectar, but the honey causes a burning sensation in the mouth, which is intensified by drinking water. A decoction of the stems is given to women after childbirth to clear the afterbirth. Bark is pounded and the paste rubbed on the body for treating skin disease in human. Bark roasted, ground and the powder applied on livestock wounds or brucellosis (swollen joints, Okuziimba-Munyiingo). Sap applied to calves’ cheek glands for the treatment of East Coast Fever. But this should be done with extreme care. The sticky latex is used as birdlime. The latex is very toxic and may cause blindness when it comes into contact with the eyes. It is also blistering and irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. In Central Africa several drops of latex diluted in water are taken to treat coughs (Ekifuba-Luganda, Olukololo-Runyankole) and tuberculosis, or as an emetic and abortifacient. The latex is also applied to wounds (amabwa-luganda, Ebironda-Runyankole), sores and warts. The Loita Maasai people mix the latex with fat, which is rubbed on the body to treat malaria (Omusujja-Luganda, Omushwijja-Runyankole). A decoction of the pith of the branches is given to women just after childbirth to expel the placenta. In Kenya and Tanzania, roots are boiled with chicken or meat, or with stomach fluids from a slaughtered goat or cow, and the liquid is drunk as a strong emetic to treat stomach-ache, severe constipation and infertility. Latex is taken in porridge as a strong purgative, and to treat HIV infection (Siriimu-luganda-Runyankole). In Kenya the latex is also applied to wounds and sores of cattle. Stem ash is powdered and used to treat eye infections. The latex is an ingredient of arrow poison. Fresh, pounded branches are thrown into watering holes and streams as a fish poison and to poison wild animals.

The stems can be used as firewood, although the smoke is irritant. The light, durable wood is used to make roofing, tables, doors, matches, boxes, mortars, musical instruments and saddles. The trunk split into halves is hollowed and re-joined to make beehives. Cut branches are used as fencing and planted for shade.

 

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