The Pencil cactus plant is also known as Fire Stick Plant, Aveloz, Milk Bush, “Sticks On Fire,” Naked Lady, Indian Tree Spurge and Pencil Tree. It is also known as Petroleum Plant. In Sanskrit it is known as Saptala. This shrub grows in semi arid tropical climates. It is a unique and different looking plant. It is a poisonous plant and the sap of this plant is very toxic which can cause gentle to severe allergic reactions. Its contact with skin can cause severe burning sensation, redness and irritation. This plant also grows as an evergreen plant, so it keeps its leaves throughout the year. Its common names come from the poison “latex”.
The Pencil cactus plant is widely distributed in Africa, being widespread in Southern, northeastern and central Africa. It is native to India, but in India, its status is uncertain. It is also found in other parts of the continents, the Arabian Peninsula and as well as some surrounding Islands. It has been also introduced in the tropical regions of the world.
The pencil cactus plant grows in dry areas and it is used as hedging and to feed cattle. The Stems of this plant are green and succulent and about the size of a pencil. And they are branched upwards in a geometrical pattern. It has small leaves and yellow flowers. These stems contain a sap like substance. This plant grows rapidly and can reach up to a height of 10 to 15 feet outdoors, but in an indoor container it can reach up to 6 feet only.
During the spring and summer season, 50% of the soil in a pencil cactus plant at the top should be allowed to dry out before watering. Cactus soil or quick draining succulent is ideal for this plant to prevent over watering. Soil with an ideal PH of 6.0 is good for the plant.
The pencil cactus plant should be planted in a large pot for good growth. It enhances its growth rate. This plant is easily propagated by stem cuttings.
The pencil cactus plant requires little care and maintenance. It only requires a little water and bright light or full sunlight to grow well. In the beginning of the summer and the spring season, it requires balance fertilizers. Soil should be a little moist when fertilizers are applied.
This plant is a very drought resistant; so it requires water once in a month. In the winter and fall season, it does not require moisture.
Temperature and Humidity
The Pencil Cactus plant requires warm temperature between 65 to 70 degrees during the whole year. When resting in winter season, it prefers cooler temperature of 50 degrees.
Pests and Diseases
This cactus plant is pest resistant and it is not affected by any disease.
In many cultures, the Pencil cactus Plant is used in traditional medicines. It has been used for tumors, excrescence, cancer and warts in various countries such as India, Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia. This plant is also used in the treatment of earache, asthma, rheumatism, warts, tooth ache and cough. It is used as landscaping and large houseplants in many parts of the world. As the weather cools, it turns into red-orange color; this change makes it an attractive ornamental plant.
After handling the pencil cactus plant, wash your hands with soap and water to remove any sap. Protection of the eyes is also necessary.