The Euphorbium Plant.
A VERY strange plant, native of the hot countries, and unlike every thing that is known in this part of the world. It is ten or twelve feet high, and is of a solid thick body, of a triangular or else a square figure, as thick as a man's leg, and is divided by knots placed at distances, so as to seem made up of several joints. The edges of the body are all beset with very sharp prickles; the plant itself is composed only of a pulpy soft matter, covered with a thick rind, of a green colour; it abounds with a milky juice, but so acrid that there is no bearing a drop of it a moment on the tongue. The plant often consists of one single stem, such as is just described, but frequently it sends out several branches; these are naked in the same manner as the main stem. All that have beside the prickles, are a kind of thin films or membranes, small and growing from their bases, but the plant is altogether without leaves. The flowers grow three together among the thorns, and the fruit is a vessel containing three seeds.
The gum which sweats out from this plant, is used in medicine; it is yellowish and comes forth in small drops, its taste is sharp and insupportable; it is a violent purge, and is recommended against dropsies, but we scarce ever prescribe it, it is so very rough; it is sometimes used outwardly among other things applied to the feet in violent fevers.