Euphorbia abyssinica latex promotes rooting of Boswellia cuttings
Traditional knowledge in northern Ethiopia points towards the root-stimulating properties of the latex found in Euphorbia abyssinica (EAG). Stem cuttings of EAG as well as cuttings of other species treated with EAG latex reportedly root easily in dry soil. This could be attributable to endogenous auxins contained in the latex. We screened EAG latex for auxins and precursor molecules using analytical LC-MS/MS, and tested the effect of EAG latex on the rooting of woody cuttings of Boswellia papyrifera, a threatened multipurpose tree. The EAG latex contained indole acetic acid (IAA) (0.06 μg/g latex), an auxin controlling apical dominance and lateral rooting, as well as IAA metabolites and conjugates. Boswellia cuttings treated with EAG latex rooted significantly sooner and showed higher survival ratios than untreated controls. EAG is widely available and its latex easy to obtain. Therefore it is a promising source of a natural plant growth regulator which may be used for improving low technology vegetative propagation of woody species in East and Northeast Africa, including the threatened Boswellia tree.