Euphorbia lactea, or Mottled spurge, is a deciduous, spiny, usually leafless, cactus-like succulent shrub or small tree. It can grow to a height of 15 feet, but is typically maintained as a 1 to 2 foot houseplant. The plant has spiny stems and mottled branches that are green with white lines, sometimes growing in a crested (cristate) form. Tiny leaves do appear in summer, but drop quickly leaving the plant leafless. Flowering is rare and the plant does not tolerate frost. Other characteristics include 4-angled stems with paired black stem thorns.
Mottled spurge is best grown in well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It cannot tolerate wet soil, but you can allow soils to dry out after each watering. Water consistently in summer to prevent soils from totally drying out and decrease watering in winter. The plants is winter hardy to zone 10, but is intolerant of frost. Potted plants can be overwintered indoors or grown, year round, as a houseplant.
The plant has adapted itself to dry regions and appears in many tropical and sub-tropical areas world wide. It has been known to escape from cultivation and form dense thickets. It grows wild in tropical Asia and is widely cultivated in the West Indies, Florida and many tropical areas world wide