The WALA Plant Library

Synonyms for Candelilla: none
Scientific Name: Euphorbia antisyphilitica, Euphorbia cerifera and Pedilanthus pavonis
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)


The candelilla shrubs Euphorbia antisyphilitica, Euphorbia cerifera and Pedilanthus pavonis have developed a clever tactic to protect themselves against the heat of their native Mexico. Their grey-green unbranched stems and sparse leaves are coated with a hard wax - candelilla wax - which prevents evaporation and protects the plants from environmental influences. The plants perform photosynthesis mainly through the stems. The common feature of all members of the spurge family is their milky sap or latex. The flowers which grow on the thin stems in spring and autumn are worth a closer look: what appears to be a single flower is in fact the combination of a female flower at the centre surrounded by several male flowers. These individual flowers are reduced to ovary and filaments. Botanists call this type of inflorescence a cyathium. The white leaves which surround the cyathium are so-called bracts or nectaries which appear like petals on account of their colour.