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Euphorbia

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
yoo-FOR-bee-ah
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Euphorbia is a perennial that grows well in all parts of North Carolina and is the genus of over 2,000 species commonly called spurge. The plants are can be annual, biennial, but most are perennial herbs, shrubs, and small trees. All, however, emit a toxic milky latex when cut.

Euphorbias flowers are usually tiny and nondescript although in many species, the bracts around the individual flowers can be showy. Some species can grow quite tall; however, the typical plant attains a height of 18 inches and, in spring, displays clusters of colorful bracts. These bracts should be trimmed off after bloom to maintain a tidy appearance.  Euphorbia can be propagated in the summer with cuttings . In some areas it can become weedy.  All species of spurge have a milky plant sap of low toxicity that can irritate skin or open wounds and can cause nausea or vomiting if other parts of the plant are ingested. If you are attempting to propagate the plant from cuttings, be sure to wear gloves.

While preferred environment varies among species, most grow best in full sun or bright direct light and appreciate some afternoon shade.  Grow in well-drained soil, preferably a cactus mix.

Quick ID:

  • Symmetrical pairs of spines arising from a shield or old flowers (NOT areoles)
  • Milky sap
  • Flowers are a cyathium; one pistil or stamen and two colored bracts

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems: No known diseases or other problems.

 

VIDEO Created by Laura Barth for "Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti", a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Ascot Rainbow', 'Diamond Frost', E. amygdaloides subsp. robbiae, E. characias, E. corollata, E. cotinifolia, E. cyparissias, E. epithymoides, E. esula, E. heterophylla var. cyathophora, E. hirta, E. horrida 'Nova', E. hypericifolia, E. hyssopifolia, E. lactea, E. lathyris, E. maculata, E. mammillaris, E. marginata, E. milii, E. myrsinites, E. nutans, E. palustris, E. peplus, E. prostrata, E. pulcherrima, E. resinifera, E. rigida, E. royleana, E. serpens, E. tirucalli, E. tithymaloides, E. umbellata, E. x martini, 'Galaxy Glow', 'Silver Swan'
Tags:
#poisonous#houseplant#drought tolerant#perennials#succulent#weedy#cut flowers#colorful leaves#rabbit resistant#air pollution tolerant#cpp#deer resistant#bracts#sap#border planting#spring interest#partial shade tolerant#HS302#meadows#container plants#hsc#hsc-s
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Ascot Rainbow', 'Diamond Frost', E. amygdaloides subsp. robbiae, E. characias, E. corollata, E. cotinifolia, E. cyparissias, E. epithymoides, E. esula, E. heterophylla var. cyathophora, E. hirta, E. horrida 'Nova', E. hypericifolia, E. hyssopifolia, E. lactea, E. lathyris, E. maculata, E. mammillaris, E. marginata, E. milii, E. myrsinites, E. nutans, E. palustris, E. peplus, E. prostrata, E. pulcherrima, E. resinifera, E. rigida, E. royleana, E. serpens, E. tirucalli, E. tithymaloides, E. umbellata, E. x martini, 'Galaxy Glow', 'Silver Swan'
Tags:
#poisonous#houseplant#drought tolerant#perennials#succulent#weedy#cut flowers#colorful leaves#rabbit resistant#air pollution tolerant#cpp#deer resistant#bracts#sap#border planting#spring interest#partial shade tolerant#HS302#meadows#container plants#hsc#hsc-s
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Euphorbia
    Family:
    Euphorbiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe, Africa and Asia
    Distribution:
    worldwide
    Edibility:
    toxic if ingested
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Succulent
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The unique flowers are called a cyathium, cup-shaped flowers with a single pistil or stamen. True flowers are not showy (they lack petals or sepals); however, the petal-like bracts are clustered in cymes and display in groups of 2 as clusters of yellow or chartreuse green.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Variegated
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Fleshy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Oblanceolate
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Spatulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Comes in many color variations of green included variegated with white or yellow stripes. Some species have leaves on top of a thick caudex or along woody branches, others have long, succulent branches, and others have spines like a cactus (actually a modified stipule and/or peduncle).
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Stems vary wildly among species; may be long and thin or thick like a cactus, fleshy and succulent or woody and branched.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Cutting Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Pollution
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Milky plant sap can irritate skin or open wounds and may cause nausea or vomiting if other parts of the plant are eaten.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Diterpene esters in milky latex
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Stems