We have the variegated variety of Slipper Flower (Pedilanthus tithymaloides) growing in our yard; it is also called Devil’s Backbone, Milk Hedge and Jacob’s Ladder. In Jamaica we call it Fiddle flower.This is one of the neglected plants in our garden, we only observe that around November or December, some of its leaves have a pink hue when it blooms. I understand that it is a distant relative of the Poinsettia.
WARNING: I read that the roots, stems and leaves of the Slipper Flower are toxic. The plant also contains known carcinogens – compounds that are directly involved in causing cancer.
Gardeners should wear gloves, goggles, long-sleeved shirts and long pant when handling this plant, and should immediately wash with soap and warm water when the sap or juice of this plant gets on their skin.
The milky sap from the stems and leaves will cause irritation of the mouth and throat, as well as vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
Contact with the sap and juices of the Slipper Flower may also cause dermatitis, rash, and blistering, as well as eye irritation upon contact.
Please note that although this plant is toxic, it is also known for it medicinal properties. The extract from the root is used for inducing vomiting and treating intestinal worms; but the tea made from its root will cause miscarriages.
I understand some persons use the leaves to make tea to treat different ailments, but I wouldn’t drink it if I were you.