Euphorbia, a diverse genus with over 2,000 species, is often mistakenly referred to as “cacti” due to its spiky appearance. However, these plants hail from the Euphorbiaceae family, not the Cactaceae where true cacti reside. This resemblance is a result of convergent evolution, where both evolved similarly due to environmental conditions. Notable Euphorbia species include Euphorbia trigona, with its three-sided stems; Euphorbia lactea, recognized for its wavy, fan-like structure; and Euphorbia obesa, resembling a ball-shaped cactus. Additionally, Euphorbia mammillaris showcases columnar stems, while Euphorbia horrida bears a thorny facade akin to certain cacti. Finally, Euphorbia ingens, the “Candelabra Tree,” mirrors cacti like Pachycereus. Care should be taken, as many Euphorbia species secrete a milky latex that can be irritating or toxic.
1. Euphorbia trigona (African Milk Tree)
Euphorbia trigona, commonly known as the African Milk Tree, is a unique perennial plant native to Central Africa. Characterized by its three-sided, upright stems adorned with spiky leaves, this type can grow up to 9 feet tall in its natural habitat but is typically shorter when cultivated indoors. Its name “Milk Tree” is derived from the milky sap it exudes when cut or damaged, which can be an irritant, thus, caution is advised when handling. Requiring minimal maintenance, the African Milk Tree thrives in well-draining soil, bright indirect light, and infrequent watering, making it a popular choice among succulent enthusiasts and houseplant collectors.
2. Euphorbia lactea (Mottled Spurge)
Euphorbia lactea, commonly known as Mottled Spurge or Dragon Bones, is an ornamental plant cherished for its distinctive appearance. Originating from tropical Asia, it boasts ridged, wavy stems often with a mottled pattern, ranging in colors from green to purplish-black. Although it can grow several feet tall, when cultivated as a houseplant or garden specimen, its height is usually more restrained. Euphorbia lactea is often grafted onto other Euphorbia species for aesthetic appeal. Like other Euphorbias, it secretes a milky sap when injured, which can be irritating to the skin and eyes. Care involves well-draining soil, moderate watering, and indirect sunlight.
3. Euphorbia obesa (Baseball Plant)
Euphorbia obesa, colloquially termed the “Baseball Plant,” is a captivating succulent native to South Africa. Resembling a round ball, its spherical shape and subtle striping echo the appearance of a baseball, hence its common name. This slow-growing plant is dioecious, meaning it has separate male and female specimens. Over-harvesting in the wild due to its unique appearance has made it endangered in its natural habitat. Euphorbia obesa thrives in well-draining soil, requires minimal watering, and prefers bright, indirect light. It’s paramount to exercise caution when handling, as its milky sap can be irritative and is toxic if ingested.
4. Euphorbia mammillaris (Indian Corn Cob)
Euphorbia mammillaris (Indian Corn Cob)
Euphorbia mammillaris, popularly known as “Indian Corn Cob,” is a striking succulent originating from South Africa. Its name derives from its appearance: columnar stems densely covered in tubercles, reminiscent of a corn cob. The plant can grow up to a foot tall, often branching out to form a clump. Bright green in color, it occasionally produces small, yellowish-green flowers. Like its Euphorbia relatives, when damaged, it secretes a milky sap that can be irritating to skin and harmful if ingested. Ideal care for the Indian Corn Cob entails well-draining soil, moderate sunlight, and water only when the soil dries.
5. Euphorbia horrida
Euphorbia horrida, often mistaken for a cactus due to its thorny appearance, is a fascinating succulent native to South Africa. Boasting a blue-green hue, its spiny, ridged columns can grow up to 3 feet tall, branching out to form a dense cluster. This slow-growing plant is cherished for its robust and rustic appearance, making it a popular ornamental choice. Its name “horrida” alludes to the formidable array of spines it presents. Like other Euphorbias, it secretes a milky latex when injured, which can be irritating to skin and harmful if ingested. Care includes well-drained soil, infrequent watering, and bright, indirect sunlight.
6. Euphorbia ingens (Candelabra Tree)
Euphorbia ingens, commonly known as the “Candelabra Tree,” is a towering succulent native to southern Africa. Characterized by its tree-like stature, it can reach a height of 40 feet in its natural habitat. Its branching pattern resembles a candelabra, giving rise to its popular name. The plant boasts cylindrical, spiny stems with tiny leaves that drop during dry spells, aiding in water conservation. An architectural beauty in gardens, it’s also cultivated for its sap, which has traditional medicinal uses. Caution is vital, as the milky sap is an irritant and toxic if ingested. Ideal care involves well-drained soil, sunlight, and minimal watering.
7. Euphorbia resinifera (Resin Spurge)
Euphorbia resinifera, known as the Resin Spurge, is a native plant of Morocco. Recognized for its thick, fleshy, and four-sided columns, it forms a dense bush that can reach up to 6 feet in height. Its name “resinifera” indicates its ability to produce a resin called “Euphorbium,” traditionally used for various applications, but it can be highly toxic and irritant. The plant is heat-tolerant and thrives in arid environments. Like other Euphorbias, Resin Spurge exudes a milky latex when cut, which can be harmful to skin and eyes. Cultivation requires well-drained soil, sunlight, and infrequent watering, replicating its natural desert habitat.
8. Euphorbia polygona (Snowflake Euphorbia)
Euphorbia polygona, commonly dubbed “Snowflake Euphorbia,” is a captivating succulent native to South Africa. Its cylindrical stems, often bluish-green with white mottling, resemble a polygon in cross-section, giving it its name. The “Snowflake” moniker is attributed to its unique white horizontal patterning, reminiscent of a snow-dusted surface. A slow-grower, this Euphorbia can reach height of 2 feet, clustering over time. Yellow flowers occasionally crown its apex. Like its kin, it secretes an irritating milky sap when cut. Ideal cultivation conditions involve well-drained soil, bright indirect light, and sparse watering, emulating its indigenous semi-arid environment.
9. Euphorbia canariensis (Canary Island Spurge)
Euphorbia canariensis, or Canary Island Spurge, is an intriguing succulent endemic to the Canary Islands. Boasting a barrel-shaped structure covered in spines, it strikingly mimics a cactus, reaching height of 10 feet. Its unique appearance, with conical growths called tubercles, makes it a standout in arid-themed gardens. Adapted to the Canaries’ dry climate, it flourishes in well-drained soil with minimal watering. The plant’s name hints at its habitat, but its typical Euphorbia trait, the secretion of a milky, irritating latex when damaged, reminds us of its true lineage. Sun-loving, it thrives in bright conditions, demanding caution when handling due to its sap.
10. Euphorbia antisyphilitica (Candelilla)
Euphorbia antisyphilitica, known as Candelilla, is a distinctive shrub indigenous to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. This desert plant, growing up to 2 feet tall, showcases slender, tightly-packed green stems that provide a unique aesthetic. Historically, its moniker “antisyphilitica” hints at its use in traditional remedies for syphilis. Today, Candelilla is renowned for its wax which is harvested from its stems and utilized in cosmetics, food, and candles. Like other Euphorbia species, it emits a milky, potentially irritating sap when broken. Adaptable and drought-resistant, Candelilla flourishes in well-draining soils, under full sun, making it a favorite in xeriscaping.
11. Euphorbia caerulescens (Blue Euphorbia)
Euphorbia coerulescens (Blue Euphorbia)
Euphorbia caerulescens, commonly known as Blue Euphorbia, is a striking succulent native to South Africa. Exhibiting a bluish tint on its columnar stems, it adds a unique splash of color to arid landscapes and gardens. Growing up to 3 feet tall, its segmented columns are densely packed with small, protruding spines, giving it a cactus-like appearance. Seasonally, it produces petite, yellow flowers. Like other Euphorbias, it secretes a milky latex when damaged, which can be irritative and harmful if ingested. For optimal growth, Blue Euphorbia requires well-draining soil, infrequent watering, and a sunlit environment, reflecting its natural, drought-prone habitat.
12. Euphorbia flanaganii (Medusa’s Head)
Euphorbia flanaganii, colloquially known as “Medusa’s Head,” is an enthralling succulent hailing from South Africa. Its unique growth pattern features a central caudex, from which snake-like arms radiate outward, reminiscent of the mythical Medusa. This compact plant seldom exceeds a few inches in height making it a coveted choice for containers and rock gardens. Green in color, its arms occasionally boast small yellow-green flowers. Like its Euphorbia relatives, it releases a milky sap when injured which can irritate the skin and is toxic when ingested. To thrive, Medusa’s Head necessitates well-drained soil, bright but indirect light, and sporadic watering.
13. Euphorbia baioensis
Euphorbia baioensis is a rare succulent native to Africa specifically the Baia region in Angola. Characterized by its columnar growth habit, it features dark green cylindrical stems armed with petite thorns. Its vertical ribs and spine clusters give it an appearance reminiscent of certain cacti, a classic example of convergent evolution. This plant grows slowly and can reach a height of 2 meter in its natural habitat. Like other Euphorbias, when damaged, Euphorbia baioensis exudes a milky latex, which can be skin-irritating and is toxic, if ingested. A favored choice among succulent enthusiasts, it requires well-drained soil and moderate watering.
14. Euphorbia aeruginosa
Euphorbia aeruginosa is a striking succulent native to South Africa. Resembling miniature cacti, it boasts blue-green columnar stems that branch profusely, creating dense clusters. Its surface is adorned with small, spiky protrusions and reddish-brown thorns, lending it an edgy appearance. During its flowering season, tiny yellow flowers emerge, contrasting beautifully with its cool-toned stems. A lover of bright sunlight, Euphorbia aeruginosa thrives in well-drained soil and requires minimal water making it a low-maintenance choice for succulent aficionados. However, like many Euphorbias, it produces a milky sap that can irritate the skin, necessitating cautious handling. This unique plant is a gem in any succulent collection.
15. Euphorbia ferox
Euphorbia ferox is a captivating succulent native to South Africa, often mistaken for a cactus due to its appearance. It showcases thick, columnar stems densely packed with sharp spines, reminiscent of certain cacti species. The green to blue-green stems are segmented with prominent ridges, and during its blooming season, it produces small, yellowish-green flowers near the stem tips. Euphorbia ferox is adapted to arid climates, preferring well-drained soil and infrequent watering. As with many Euphorbias, when injured, it exudes a milky sap that potentially irritates the skin and eyes. Its bold, spiky aesthetic makes it a standout in succulent collections.
16. Euphorbia stellata
Euphorbia stellata is a unique, South African-native succulent prized for its fascinating geometric growth pattern. Its flattened, star-shaped body, known as a caudex, features green, leaf-bearing branches that emerge out in a spiral formation. This radiant arrangement gives it the appearance of a starburst, especially when viewed from above. The plant produces tiny, inconspicuous flowers on its elongated stems. Like many of its Euphorbia relatives, E. stellata emits a milky latex when damaged, which can be irritating to skin. Perfect for container gardening, this low-maintenance plant thrives in well-drained soil and bright, indirect light, making it a cherished addition to succulent collections.
17. Euphorbia suzannae
Euphorbia suzannae is a charming, small succulent originating from Madagascar. It boasts a globular, segmented appearance with multiple lobes, giving it the allure of a miniature, green pumpkin. Each lobe is adorned with petite, non-threatening spines and the plant occasionally displays delicate, pinkish flowers at the apex of its segments. Euphorbia suzannae is relatively low-growing, making it perfect for containers or small succulent displays. Like other Euphorbias, it exudes a milky sap when damaged, which can be irritating to skin. This delightful plant prefers well-drained soil, ample sunlight, and moderate watering, making it a prized possession for succulent enthusiasts.
18. Euphorbia decaryi
Euphorbia decaryi is a distinctive succulent native to the island of Madagascar. This low-growing plant boasts a rosette of elongated, recurved leaves with purplish-red undersides, adding a touch of color to succulent collections. Its leaf arrangement forms intriguing spiral patterns, making it visually appealing. In its blooming season, Euphorbia decaryi produces small, inconspicuous flowers. It’s a lover of sun, thriving best in bright, indirect light which accentuates its leaf colors. Like other Euphorbias, when injured, it releases a milky sap that can be irritating to the skin. With its captivating appearance and easy-care nature, E. decaryi is a gem among succulent enthusiasts.
19. Euphorbia avasmontana
Euphorbia avasmontana is a columnar succulent endemic to Namibia and southern Angola. This tall, upright plant is reminiscent of a cactus, with ribbed green stems adorned with short, sturdy spines. Growing up to 2 meter in height, it forms dense clusters, giving the illusion of a miniature forest. Periodically, small yellow flowers emerge from the crown, adding a touch of color. As with many Euphorbias, E. avasmontana produces a milky sap when damaged, which can be irritative. This sun-loving plant prefers well-drained soil and is drought-resistant, making it an ideal choice for arid gardens and succulent collections.
20. Euphorbia inermis
Euphorbia inermis, commonly referred to as the “spineless Euphorbia,” is a fascinating succulent species indigenous to South Africa. Its defining feature is the absence of the typical spines found on many other Euphorbias. With thick, round, and smooth stems, it stands tall, often branching freely and taking on a tree-like appearance in mature specimens. Its greenish to blue-green hue further complements its simple elegance. Although spineless, it retains the characteristic of releasing a milky latex when damaged, which can be irritative. Thriving in well-drained soil and loving ample sunlight, Euphorbia inermis serves as both an architectural and botanical delight in gardens and collections.
21. Euphorbia bupleurifolia
Euphorbia bupleurifolia, often referred to as the “Pineapple Euphorbia,” is a unique succulent originating from South Africa. Its striking appearance combines a thick, round caudex base with slender, elongated stems, evoking the image of a pineapple. The caudex serves as a water storage unit, making the plant drought-resistant. The green stems are adorned with tiny leaves, providing a contrast to the caudex. Like other Euphorbias, it exudes a milky sap when damaged, which can be irritative. Euphorbia bupleurifolia thrives in well-drained soil with moderate watering and bright light. Its unusual form makes it a coveted specimen among succulent collectors.
22. Euphorbia pseudocactus
Euphorbia pseudocactus, aptly named “False Cactus,” is a succulent that mimics the appearance of traditional cacti. Native to South Africa, its segmented, branching stems are covered with spiky protrusions, resembling the ribs and spines of cacti. This is a classic example of convergent evolution, where distinct species develop similar traits in response to comparable environments. The plant can produce small yellow flowers when conditions are favorable. Although it thrives in arid conditions, it’s not a true cactus. Like other Euphorbias, it releases a milky sap when damaged, which can be irritative. Euphorbia pseudocactus is a delightful addition to succulent gardens or as a standalone specimen.
23. Euphorbia milii (Crown of Thorns)
Euphorbia milii, popularly termed “Crown of Thorns,” is a thorny, flowering shrub native to Madagascar. Its vivid, petal-like bracts surround tiny flowers which sprout in hues of red, pink, yellow, or white. The plant’s sharp spines and vivid blossoms create a striking juxtaposition of defense and beauty. Its name is steeped in biblical lore implying to the thorny crown placed on Christ’s head. Preferring bright sunlight, this resilient shrub requires well-drained soil and sparse irrigation. While it can bloom year-round under ideal conditions, caution is advised due to its skin-irritating, toxic sap and prickly nature. A captivating blend of folklore, beauty, and resilience.
24. Euphorbia characias (Mediterranean Spurge)
Euphorbia characias, commonly known as “Mediterranean Spurge,” is a perennial native to the Mediterranean region. Displaying a statuesque posture, it boasts upright, cylindrical stems adorned with linear blue-green leaves. In spring, its apex is crowned with dome-shaped inflorescences, showcasing a vivid chartreuse hue. These unique flower heads are a magnet for pollinators adding an ecological dimension to its ornamental appeal. Suited for dry gardens, Mediterranean Spurge thrives in well-drained soil, requiring minimal water once established. As with many Euphorbias, when injured, it exudes a milky latex, which can be skin-irritant and is toxic, if ingested. Its bold form and hue make it a garden standout.
25. Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)
Euphorbia pulcherrima, universally recognized as the “Poinsettia,” is synonymous with festive celebrations. Indigenous to Mexico, its fame lies not in its small, yellow flowers but in its vibrant, petal-like bracts which can be red, pink, white, or even marbled. These bracts, often mistaken for flowers, encircle the actual blooms. The Poinsettia’s association with Christmas originates from a Mexican legend where it symbolized the Star of Bethlehem. While it thrives in subtropical climates outdoors; in colder regions, it’s cherished as a holiday houseplant. Caution is advised as its milky sap can be irritating, though its rumored extreme toxicity is largely a myth.
26. Euphorbia tirucalli (Firestick Plant or Pencil Tree)
Euphorbia tirucalli, often called the “Firestick Plant” or “Pencil Tree,” is a distinctive succulent originating from Africa. Characterized by its thin, cylindrical, branch-like structures, its color shifts from green to a fiery orange-red hue in cooler temperatures or in sun stress, invoking images of burning sticks. Growing up to 25 feet in its native habitat, it’s often kept as a small ornamental plant. This Euphorbia thrives in well-drained soil and loves sunlight. Extreme caution is required as its milky sap is highly irritating to skin and eyes and is toxic when ingested, making careful handling imperative.
27. Euphorbia lathyris (Caper Spurge or Gopher Plant)
Euphorbia lathyris, commonly termed “Caper Spurge” or “Gopher Plant,” is a biennial plant native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. Boasting erect, tall stems with linear, opposing leaves, it can reach up to 4 feet in height. During late spring, its apex unveils unique greenish-yellow flower adding an architectural touch to gardens. Historically, its seeds were mistaken for capers, thus, the name. It’s often hailed as a natural mole and gopher repellent, though evidence is anecdotal. Like other Euphorbias, it oozes a milky latex when damaged, which is irritative and toxic. Preferring sunny spots, it’s both drought-tolerant and deer-resistant.
28. Euphorbia rigida (Gopher Spurge or Upright Myrtle Spurge)
Euphorbia rigida, commonly named “Gopher Spurge” or “Upright Myrtle Spurge,” is a perennial succulent native to the Mediterranean. It boasts spirally arranged, blue-green leaves on erect stems, culminating in bright chartreuse flower clusters during spring. Adding to its allure, these blooms transition to a reddish tint with age. Growing up to 2 feet tall, this plant forms a mounding habit and spreads making it suitable for borders and rock gardens. It is drought-tolerant and thrives in well-drained soil. The name “Gopher Spurge” suggests it deters gophers, but concrete evidence is sparse. As with most Euphorbias, its milky sap is irritating and potentially toxic.
29. Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge)
Euphorbia cyparissias, known as “Cypress Spurge,” is a perennial herb native to Europe and Asia. Its moniker arises from its delicate, feathery foliage reminiscent of cypress trees. Growing up to a foot tall, this spurge produces clusters of tiny yellow-green flowers in late spring, brightening up meadows and gardens. While it can be ornamental, it’s also considered invasive in some North American regions due to its prolific spreading nature. Adapted to a variety of soil types, it thrives in sunny spots. As with other Euphorbias, its milky sap can irritate skin and eyes, and care should be taken when handling.
30. Euphorbia amygdaloides (Wood Spurge)
Euphorbia amygdaloides, commonly referred to as “Wood Spurge,” is a perennial native to woodlands and shaded habitats of Europe. Sporting dark green leaves with a hint of blue, it reaches up to 2 feet in height. In spring, it dazzles with yellow-green bracts that envelop its small flowers, providing a vibrant contrast against the backdrop of shade-loving plants. Its name “amygdaloides” translates to “almond-shaped,” referring to the shape of its leaves. As a woodland species, it prefers partially shaded locations and moisture-retentive soil. Like its Euphorbia kin, Wood Spurge produces a milky sap which is irritating to skin and harmful if ingested.
31. Euphorbia hirta (Asthma Plant)
Euphorbia hirta, commonly dubbed “Asthma Plant,” is a small, annual herb originating from the tropical regions. Often regarded as a weed, it sprawls low to the ground with hairy stems, producing inconspicuous, reddish or green flowers. Beyond its unassuming appearance, Euphorbia hirta is steeped in traditional medicine, where its extracts have been employed to treat ailments like asthma, coughs, and gastrointestinal issues. Modern studies have delved into its potential therapeutic properties, affirming some of its traditional uses. As typical for Euphorbias, the plant exudes a milky latex when broken, which can be irritative. It thrives in warm climates and versatile soil conditions.
32. Euphorbia peplus (Petty Spurge or Cancer Weed)
Euphorbia peplus, known as “Petty Spurge” or “Cancer Weed,” is a small, annual herbaceous plant found predominantly in disturbed areas like gardens and cultivated grounds. Often dismissed as a weed, it stands out due to its tiny, cup-shaped, green flowers. Traditionally, its milky sap has been utilized to treat skin conditions including warts. Interestingly, recent research has explored its efficacy in treating certain skin cancers giving rise to its name “Cancer Weed.” However, caution is imperative: while the sap has therapeutic properties, it can also be irritating and harmful if ingested. Native to Europe and North Africa, it’s now widespread globally.
33. Euphorbia pekinensis (Peking Spurge)
Euphorbia pekinensis, commonly referred to as “Peking Spurge,” is a perennial herb native to China. With a rich history in traditional Chinese medicine, the roots of this plant have been employed to address various ailments, including edema, inflammation, and menstrual disorders. The plant stands tall with erect stems, showcasing broad leaves and yellow-green flowers. Its medicinal attributes, especially its diuretic properties, have made it a subject of ongoing research in modern pharmacology. As with other members of the Euphorbia family, it produces a milky sap which can be irritative to skin and is toxic upon ingestion, necessitating careful handling.
Here’s a summarized table of all the Euphorbia species we’ve discussed:
|Euphorbia Species||Notable Characteristics|
|Euphorbia trigona||Tall, ribbed stems, known as the “African Milk Tree”|
|Euphorbia lactea||Mottled patterns, crest variant popular, “Mottled Spurge”|
|Euphorbia obesa||Ball-shaped, “Baseball Plant”|
|Euphorbia mammillaris||Columnar with tubercles, “Indian Corn Cob”|
|Euphorbia horrida||Spiny, variable in appearance|
|Euphorbia ingens||Tree-like growth, “Candelabra Tree”|
|Euphorbia resinifera||Low-growing, contains resiniferatoxin|
|Euphorbia polygona||Columnar with a snowflake pattern|
|Euphorbia canariensis||Thick, succulent stems, “Canary Island Spurge”|
|Euphorbia antisyphilitica||Used to make candelilla wax|
|Euphorbia coerulescens||Blue-green coloration, “Blue Euphorbia”|
|Euphorbia flanaganii||Radiating arms, “Medusa’s Head”|
|Euphorbia milii||Thorny stems with vibrant flowers, “Crown of Thorns”|
|Euphorbia characias||Upright growth with long-lasting flowers, “Mediterranean Spurge”|
|Euphorbia pulcherrima||Festive red bracts, popular Christmas plant, “Poinsettia”|
|Euphorbia tirucalli||Pencil-like branches, “Firestick Plant or Pencil Tree”|
|Euphorbia lathyris||Erect growth, used as a mole repellent, “Caper Spurge or Gopher Plant”|
|Euphorbia rigida||Blue-green leaves and yellow flowers, “Gopher Spurge”|
|Euphorbia cyparissias||Fine, needle-like leaves, “Cypress Spurge”|
|Euphorbia amygdaloides||Shade-loving with green-yellow inflorescences, “Wood Spurge”|
|Euphorbia hirta||Small annual with medicinal uses, “Asthma Plant”|
|Euphorbia peplus||Small, used in skin treatments, “Petty Spurge or Cancer Weed”|
|Euphorbia pekinensis||Used in traditional medicine, “Peking Spurge”|
|Euphorbia baioensis||Dark green cylindrical stems|
|Euphorbia aeruginosa||Blue-green columnar stems resembling mini cacti|
|Euphorbia ferox||Thick stems packed with sharp spines|
|Euphorbia stellata||Star-shaped caudex, spiral leaf arrangement|
|Euphorbia suzannae||Globular, segmented appearance|
|Euphorbia decaryi||Rosette of elongated, recurved leaves|
|Euphorbia avasmontana||Tall, ribbed green stems|
|Euphorbia inermis||Spineless, thick, round stems|
|Euphorbia bupleurifolia||Pineapple-like appearance with a caudex and slender stems|
|Euphorbia pseudocactus||Segmented stems resembling cacti|
The Euphorbia genus is a vast and diverse group of plants, encompassing a wide range of forms, from cactus-like succulents to shrubs and trees. Originating from various parts of the world, they exhibit a fascinating array of adaptations to thrive in their respective habitats. While many Euphorbias are coveted for their aesthetic appeal, others have medicinal or utilitarian values. However, a common trait is the presence of a milky sap, which can be irritative. This genus exemplifies the wondrous versatility of nature, as these plants have evolved to meet specific challenges, resulting in an extraordinary array of forms and functions.