Zig-Zag (species: Euphorbia tithymaloides) in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Euphorbia tithymaloides

©Anne Hoggett: Single stem of a small Zig-Zag plant at Lizard Island
Kingdom Plantae
Division Tracheophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Malpighiales
Family Euphorbiaceae
Genus Euphorbia
Species Euphorbia tithymaloides



Distinguishing features

A shrub reaching 1-2 m tall with thick stems bearing alternate leaves giving a distinctive zig-zag shape. The stem produces copious milky sap when cut. 


  • Size data has not been obtained.



This species is native to north and central America and is a common garden plant. It is regarded as a weed in Australia. It was first recorded at Lizard Island in 1988 as a "garden escape" (Atlas of Living Australia, accessed 9 Aug 2014). Most parts of the plant are toxic and cause irriation to skin and eyes (Wikipedia, accessed 9 Aug 2014)

by Anne Hoggett


©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Local abundance

  • Lizard Island: Has not spread far from inhabited areas. Rare at LIRS following eradication efforts. 

Local feral populations

  • Lizard Island:  Considered a weed, introduced but has not spread beyond inhabited areas

Web resources


  • Colvill, A., M. Ahmet, S. Clag and B. Haigh (2004). Lizard Island fauna and flora sampling report.Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. LIRS catalog number 10067.