Its Latin name derives from its growth habit, often considered to resemble the branching of a candelabrum. Candelabra trees can be found in dry deciduous and evergreen open wooded grasslands, on rocky slopes and on the rare occasion, termite mounds. As rates of rainfall decrease, so does Euphorbia candelabrum's habitat range. Trees typically grow to be 12 metres in height however some specimens have been recorded to grow up to 20 metres tall. E. candelabrum is endemic to the Horn of Africa and eastern Africa along the East African Rift system. It is known in Ethiopia by its Amharic name, qwolqwal, or its Oromo name, adaamii.
Although Euphorbia candelabrum is known to be quite toxic, it has multiple medicinal uses. Its latex contains highly irritant ingenol diterpene esters which proves to be both harmful and helpful. On top of blistering and irritation, ingenol products demonstrate tumour-promoting activity, causing cells to resist apoptosis and continue multiplying. However, ingenol is beneficial in the respect that it encourages anti-HIV and anti-leukemia cellular activity which protects T-cells. A 1961 study found that three out of 40 mice contracted papilloma when treated with DMBA only, meanwhile only 3 out of 100 mice developed papilloma when treated with Euphorbia latices, indicating that plants from the family Euphorbiaceae are highly effective anti-tumour agents. In addition to being used as a purgative to cure syphilis or a salve to treat leprosy, Euphorbia candelabrum sap has been used in the treatment of coughs, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV infections. It has the ability to be mixed with fat and applied topically to heal wounds, sores, and warts. E. candelabrum latex is an effective abortifacient and a concoction containing pith from the branches may be given to women after childbirth to assist in the expulsion of the placenta. Its roots can be boiled and drinking this fluid is said to help with stomach aches, constipation, and infertility. Ash from the stems has also been used to treat eye infections.