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Info Sheet PDF

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

Mature Height*: 

1-4 ft

Mature Width*: 

2-5 ft

USDA Hardiness Zone Range:

8 to 11

Hardy to: 


Water Requirements: 

Drought Tolerant

Shade Requirements:

Full Sun

Native to:

Trans-Pecos region of Texas and southern New Mexico, into northern Mexico

Origin and Adaptability:

Native to the arid Chihuahuan Desert spanning parts of New Mexico, west Texas, and Mexico, Euphorbia antisyphilitica, commonly known as Candelilla, thrives in hot, dry climates. This resilient succulent showcases exceptional adaptability to well-drained soils, making it a valuable asset for landscape architects seeking low-maintenance and regionally appropriate plants for xeriscapes or desert gardens.

Architectural Form and Foliage:

Candelilla boasts a captivating sculptural form. Its slender, pencil-like wax-coated stems rise in clusters, resembling a cluster of pale green candles. Tiny, inconspicuous leaves grace new growth but quickly fall away, leaving the spiky stems as the main visual attraction. This unique form provides designers with an aesthetically captivating canvas. Whether used as a focal point in modern designs, as an accent in arid-themed gardens, or as part of a xeriscape backdrop, its foliage adds a touch of sophistication to outdoor spaces, enhancing the overall visual appeal with its distinctive growth habit.

Floral Display and Growth Speed:

While not its most prominent feature, Candelilla occasionally produces clusters of small, creamy-white flowers with red centers at the stem tips, following spring and summer rains. With a moderate growth rate of around 4-6 inches per year, this species offers gradual establishment and long-term manageability, allowing for strategic placement in evolving landscapes.

Light and Water Requirements:

Thriving under full sunlight, Candelilla reaches its full potential when exposed to at least six hours of sunlight daily. Well-suited for arid environments, it is drought-tolerant once established, requiring minimal watering. This adaptability makes it an ideal choice for sustainable landscape designs where water conservation is a priority.

Wildlife Support and Biodiversity:

Indigenous to North America, Candelilla may attract local pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, with its inconspicuous blossoms. While not a primary wildlife attractant, its presence in the landscape contributes to the overall biodiversity of the ecosystem as it can provide shelter for small animals when full-sized.

Edible Practices:

Traditionally, Candelilla has cultural significance for indigenous communities, particularly in Mexico. Although not commonly consumed today, historically, some indigenous communities utilized parts of Candelilla. The milky sap has traditionally been used for medicinal purposes; however, it is toxic if ingested and can cause skin irritation. Proper identification and preparation are crucial before any attempted edible use.

Challenges and Considerations:

Candelilla is generally low-maintenance but exudes a milky sap that can irritate skin. Landscape architects should wear gloves during handling and planting. Although slow-growing, its mature size (up to 3 feet) requires consideration during planning.

Integration into Landscape Designs:

With its unique architectural form, adaptability, and moderate growth rate, Candelilla seamlessly integrates into diverse landscape designs. Designers can use it to enhance modern gardens, introduce a focal point in arid landscapes, be grouped for a dramatic effect, or as a key element in xeriscape designs, contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces.

Designing with Candelilla:

For landscape architects and designers, Euphorbia antisyphilitica, commonly known as Candelilla, provides an opportunity to infuse outdoor spaces with visually striking architectural beauty and adaptability. Whether featured prominently or subtly integrated into a diverse plant palette, this succulent adds a touch of sophistication to landscape designs, creating dynamic and environmentally conscious outdoor environments.

*Height and width estimated for growth in the Tucson, AZ area. True sizes may vary.

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