Botanical name: Euphorbia
Botanical name: Euphorbia
Spurges are annual, biennial or perennial herbs, woody shrubs, or trees with a caustic, poisonous milky latex. The roots are fine or thick and fleshy or tuberous. Many species are more or less succulent, thorny, or unarmed. The main stem and mostly also the side arms of the succulent species are thick and fleshy, 15 to 91 cm tall. The deciduous leaves may be opposite, alternate, or in whorls. In spurges, flowers occur in a head, called the cyathium (plural cyathia). The fruits are three- or rarely two-compartment capsules, sometimes fleshy, but almost always ripening to a woody container that then splits open, sometimes explosively. The seeds are four-angled, oval, or spherical, and some species have a caruncle. The genus has over or about 2,000 members. The genus can be found all over the world.
Species of Spurges
Pencil cactus 'Sticks on Fire'
Pencil cactus 'Sticks on Fire' is a decorative cultivar of the Pencil cactus, cultivated to provide multi-seasonal interest. This evergreen succulent is distinguished by its long, fleshy, pencil-like leaves that are golden-red. The leaves turn yellow during the summer and the fall until they again become reddish in the winter.
Cypress spurge 'Fens Ruby'
Cypress spurge 'Fens Ruby' is a uniquely colorful Cypress spurge that is named for its reddish-purple stems and leaves that turn burgundy-red in the spring. This cultivar is much showier than its parent, with bright chartreuse flowers and foliage that is burgundy in the spring, blue-green in the summer, and golden-orange in autumn. These showy ever-changing colors make this a favorite perennial for many gardeners.
Pincushion euphorbia is a fascinating succulent with striking architectural features that make it a popular addition to rock gardens and drought-tolerant landscapes. It has thick, spiky leaves that resemble cactus spines and clusters of small, greenish-yellow flowers that bloom in the summer. This plant has been used in traditional medicine. However, it's important to note that it contains toxic latex, which can cause skin irritation and even blindness if ingested. Its unique appearance and hardiness make it a standout plant in any collection.
Poinsettia 'Regina' is an unusual Poinsettia cultivar that differs from the widely popular and classic Poinsettia by the color of its bracts. While the classic Poinsettia is famous for its vibrant red bracts, this unusual selection is noted for bracts that are creamy yellow to white.
The candelabra tree (Euphorbia candelabrum) gets its name from its many (up to 150!) upward-growing branches that make it resemble a candelabra. An unusually tall succulent, the candelabra tree can grow to 4.5 m high, helping it evade grazing animals. It is toxic thanks to the white, milky latex it seeps when damaged.
Seaside sandmat has a fairly restricted habitat in sandy beaches and dunes along the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes. Its fruit and seeds are relatively large, and develop later than similar species.
Pincushion euphorbia (Euphorbia heptagona) derives its unique common name from its appearance, which resembles long red needles stuck into a green pincushion. While the plant is resistant to pests and diseases, it is sensitive to excess humidity, which it dislikes. Small yellow flowers (typical of the Euphorbia genus) bloom in summer.
Gulf sandmat are annual, biennial or perennial herbs, woody shrubs, or trees with a caustic, poisonous milky latex. The roots are fine or thick and fleshy or tuberous. Many species are more or less succulent, thorny, or unarmed. The main stem and mostly also the side arms of the succulent species are thick and fleshy, 15 to 91 cm tall. The deciduous leaves may be opposite, alternate, or in whorls. In gulf sandmat, flowers occur in a head, called the cyathium (plural cyathia). The fruits are three- or rarely two-compartment capsules, sometimes fleshy, but almost always ripening to a woody container that then splits open, sometimes explosively. The seeds are four-angled, oval, or spherical, and some species have a caruncle. The genus has over or about 2,000 members. The genus can be found all over the world.
Fireglow spurge is grown in gardens and used as a landscaping plant. The spreading plant produces a profusion of bright reddish-orange flowers in the summer. The bright-colored blooms are also why the plant is sometimes called “fire glow spurge.”
Euphorbia stellata has an interesting appearance that makes it popular as a container plant. It can also grow in rock gardens in warm climates. It is not uncommon for the plant’s large tuber to be above ground with branches growing out of the side.
Known for its distinctive dark green foliage and yellow flowers, the spurges 'Blackbird' has a compact bushy habit. A sport of the Euphorbia Red Wing Charam, the spurges 'Blackbird' developed its byname 'Blackbird' from its dark foliage. Animal resistant, this cultivar is versatile and can be grown in a range of gardens for its texture and form.
Fireglow spurge 'Fireglow'
Fireglow spurge 'Fireglow' are annual, biennial or perennial herbs, woody shrubs, or trees with a caustic, poisonous milky latex. The roots are fine or thick and fleshy or tuberous. Many species are more or less succulent, thorny, or unarmed. The main stem and mostly also the side arms of the succulent species are thick and fleshy, 15 to 91 cm tall. The deciduous leaves may be opposite, alternate, or in whorls. In fireglow spurge 'Fireglow', flowers occur in a head, called the cyathium (plural cyathia). The fruits are three- or rarely two-compartment capsules, sometimes fleshy, but almost always ripening to a woody container that then splits open, sometimes explosively. The seeds are four-angled, oval, or spherical, and some species have a caruncle. The genus has over or about 2,000 members. The genus can be found all over the world.
Mrs. Robb's hatbox
Mrs. Robb's hatbox, or Robb’s euphorbia, also has the delightful names of mrs. Robb's hatbox or Mrs. Robb's Bonnet. This subspecies of Euphorbia amygdaloides subsp. robbiae is a trailing ground cover, which is popular in gardens for its spread and for its two-toned green heart-shaped leaves. It is native to Mediterranean climates and often grows wild in woodland areas.
Graceful spurge 'Diamond Frost'
Graceful spurge 'Diamond Frost' produces masses of tiny white flowers that bloom from early spring to the first autumn frosts. Though the plant looks tender and delicate, this cultivar is actually noted for its extreme heat and drought tolerance, as well as for its disease resistance.
Wood spurge 'Ruby Glow'
Wood spurge 'Ruby Glow' is set apart by its reserved spreading habit, red foliage, cherry-red foliage, and hardiness. It blooms from summer to fall. The wood spurge 'Ruby Glow' stems from the Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea.' Its name derives from its ruby-red foliage, which attracts the attention of gardeners looking for a resilient and easy-to-grow cultivar, as the wood spurge 'Ruby Glow' is resilient to drought and animal pests.
Crown of thorns 'Vulcanus'
Crown of thorns 'Vulcanus' is a California hybrid of Crown of thorns that is part of the "Giant crown of thorns" series. Varieties of this series are bred for their stout stems and large, colorful bracts. Despite the name "giant," it is also bred to be shorter: while the parent species grows to 1.8 m, 'Vulcanus' only grows to about 50 cm. It gets its name from the volcanic essence evoked by its deep red flowers.
With its striking pink leaves and white veins, poinsettia 'Marbella' has a distinctive look among poinsettias. A cultivar of the "Christmas Angel Marble" poinsettia, this variety was named after its parent plant and feminine appeal. Poinsettia 'Marbella''s appealing growth habit, colors, and longevity are making it increasingly popular.
Spurges 'Ascot Rainbow'
Spurges 'Ascot Rainbow' 'Ascot Rainbow' is a standout hybrid notable for its multicolored green, yellow, and red flowers and leaves. This showy plant is easy to care for and has excellent tolerance to disease, drought, and hot weather. Note that all parts of the plant are toxic. This dwarf hybrid grows well in containers and stands out in mixed borders.
Fireglow spurge 'Dixter'
Fireglow spurge 'Dixter' is shorter and smaller than other plants from the same genus family, but the bold orange blooms look similar. The leaves can change colors depending on the soil pH and the lighting. In some cases, the leaves will have red margins. Gardeners often use this plant in their yards to attract pollinators and hummingbirds.
Euphorbia lathyris, the caper spurge or paper spurge, is a species of spurge native to southern Europe (France, Italy, Greece, northwest Africa, and eastward through southwest Asia to western China.
Fireglow spurge 'Fern Cottage'
Fireglow spurge 'Fern Cottage' is a species of Fireglow surge named for the house it was cultivated in. It has many characteristics similar to other plants in the family, with the exception of its flowers. The blooms are a brilliant orange, making this a popular choice among gardeners for adding a splash of bright color to any garden.
Euphorbia jolkinii are annual, biennial or perennial herbs, woody shrubs, or trees with a caustic, poisonous milky latex. The roots are fine or thick and fleshy or tuberous. Many species are more or less succulent, thorny, or unarmed. The main stem and mostly also the side arms of the succulent species are thick and fleshy, 15 to 91 cm tall. The deciduous leaves may be opposite, alternate, or in whorls. In euphorbia jolkinii, flowers occur in a head, called the cyathium (plural cyathia). The fruits are three- or rarely two-compartment capsules, sometimes fleshy, but almost always ripening to a woody container that then splits open, sometimes explosively. The seeds are four-angled, oval, or spherical, and some species have a caruncle. The genus has over or about 2,000 members. The genus can be found all over the world.
Devil's-backbone 'Variegata''s starry red flowers and multicolored leaves give this cultivar its beautiful look. Cultivated as a hybrid, it was named after its (usually) evergreen variegated foliage. Devil's-backbone 'Variegata' is beloved for its profuse blooms, seasonal ornamental value, and ease of care.
Tall Slipper Flower
It’s hard to miss tall Slipper Flower growing in the garden. The bush-shaped succulent produces large flower spikes covered in bird-shaped blooms. It’s also why it is sometimes called the little bird plant.
African candelabra is a striking plant with an upright, segmented growth resembling a candelabra. Its thick, fleshy columns are perfectly adapted to storing water, making this dry-climate specialist ideal for drought-prone gardens. Despite resembling cacti native to the Americas, this plant originates in the Arabian Peninsula, where it is now scarce in the wild.
Balsam spurge is a squat, dense shrub with unusually thick branches that make it simple to identify in its native Canary Islands and West Africa. The island of Lanzarote uses balsam spurge's image as its plant symbol on maps and documents. This plant is resistant to termites, is highly wind-resistant, and can grow in exposed coastal locations.
Mexican fireplant is native to tropical America, but it has been naturalized in other tropical and subtropical regions in the world. *Euphorbia heterophylla* is a poisonous plant to humans and livestock. It contains a toxic milky sap which can cause strong skin irritation.
Cliff spurge (Euphorbia misera) is a perennial, deciduous shrub that thrives in full sun and prefers sandy soil. It's commonly found growing on coastal bluffs along the southwest coast of the U.S. It blooms in spring with small white flowers that have interesting red and yellow centers. Attracts bees and butterflies. It is drought-tolerant, once established.
Pincushion euphorbia (Euphorbia enopla) is a succulent shrub native to South Africa. Pincushion euphorbia is often cultivated as an ornamental houseplant and is considered easy to care for by gardeners. This species grows best in well-drained soil and full sunlight. It is susceptible to root rot if subjected to standing water.
Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) is an evergreen perennial that is native to Eurasian woodlands. The milky latex substance that the plant exudes is toxic and a potential skin irritant. In spring and summer, it produces unique green-yellow flowers and has earned the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
Medusa plant (Euphorbia flanaganii) is a unique cactus with several snake-like branches extending from a central hub. It can grow to 91 cm wide. Requires bright, indirect light and well-drained soil. Avoid direct sun exposure, which can burn the plant and prevent it from getting too wet. It blooms summer through fall with small, yellow flowers.
Euphorbia davidii, also known as david's spurge, is native to southwestern and central North America. It has also been introduced in many places worldwide and can survive in a wide range of habitats.
Pascuita (Euphorbia leucocephala) is a tropical shrub that will grow from 2.5 to 3 m tall. Like its close relative the poinsettia, its showy parts are leaf-shaped bracts with the actual flowers found in the center of the bract. It blooms in late fall to give a snowy display through winter. Emits a milky sap when cut that can irritate the skin. Gloves should be worn when pruning this plant.
The myrtle spurge (*Euphorbia myrsinites*) is a succulent species from Southeastern Europe into Western Asia. Its milky sap can induce irritation in the skin and eyes, and its effects are strongest in children. Extreme care should be taken when handling myrtle spurge. The effect is even such that many plants are unable to grow near the myrtle spurge.
Red monadenium (Euphorbia neorubella) is an indigenous Kenyan plant that thrives in the wild and in cultivation when grown among rocks. Red monadenium is drought tolerant, considered easy to grow, and requires little maintenance in cultivation. This species should be shielded from direct sunlight and given moderate amounts of water.
Spiny spurge is an evergreen herbaceous perennial shrub typically found in rocky, alpine areas. It is noted for its thorny stem. It is drought tolerant, can be used for ground cover, and is often used in rockeries for ornamental purposes. It is toxic if ingested and its sap can cause skin irritation.
Serrate spurge (Euphorbia serrata) is used as an ornamental plant and ground cover but is regarded as a noxious weed in some places such as California. Nevertheless, it provides food and cover for a wide range of birds and mammals. As with all spurge species, serrate spurge sap can irritate the skin and is moderately toxic if eaten.
Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica) is a flowering plant native to desert areas of North America. It grows in tufts of waxy stems that look a bit like slender candles. Its leaves and flowers are tiny and appear all along the stem. The wax is of a high grade and can be used to make soap, candles, and waterproofing and lubricating products.
The small spurge is an annual krautige plant, which reaches a stature height of 5 to 20 cm. The sitting leaves are linear with a width of 1 to 4 millimeters, tapered and blue-green frosted.
Mediterranean spurge (Euphorbia characias) is a flowering evergreen shrub that blooms from spring to early summer. Its nectar glands attract many pollinators, including bees and butterflies. This species grows well in dry or well-drained soil and has become a popular choice for desert gardens.
The sweet spurge is a deciduous, perennial herbaceous plant that reaches a stature height of 20 to 50 cm. As a persistence organ, it forms a fleshy, horizontally growing rhizome. The stalk is stalk-round, hairy towards the top. The middle and upper leaves are 4 to 9 cm long and 1 to 2 cm wide.
Red-gland spurge (Euphorbia melanadenia) is a species that’s indigenous to the western part of the United States. This plant produces egg-shaped fruit with puckered-up white seeds in them. If there’s enough moisture, it can bloom at any time of the year. Be wary around this plant, because its milky white sap can irritate skin and eyes.
Rattlesnake weed (Euphorbia albomarginata) is a flat-growing ground cover found in dry and desert regions. It can access moisture from dew, so it can survive where other plants can't. Euphorbia albomarginata's milky sap is poisonous. In urban landscaping and gardens, it is considered a weed.
Twisted Spurge (Euphorbia tortirama) is a South African species ornamentally valued for its spiraling leaves. Twisted Spurge grows in the wild in woodland rocky soils. This species grows best in cultivation in pots with large draining holes. It is considered a slow-growing species that is less prone to root rot than some other species.
Eyebane is a weedy annual also known as nodding spurge or Euphorbia nutans. It grows small clusters of cup-shaped white flowers. Like all other species of euphorbia, this plant has a sap that is toxic.
Sickle spurge is a euphorbia species that grows in disturbed ground, including roadsides, meadows, and empty fields. It is considered an agricultural weed in the United States. LIke many euphorbia, sickle spurge may be toxic when ingested so use caution when handling it.
All plants of the Euphorbia genus, including Euphorbia flavicoma, contain toxic milky sap and have interesting and unusual flower structure. Euphorbia flavicoma naturally grows in pastures and forest edges in the Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean region, but it's often used as a garden plant thanks to its ornamental features.
Peking spurge is a flowering plant that's occasionally grown as an ornamental. Its most striking feature is its yellow-green flowers, which are actually bracts; the true flowers are tiny and inconspicuous. The plant contains milky, latex-like sap that's poisonous when ingested and causes skin irritation when touched.
Wild poinsettia (*Euphorbia heterophylla* var. *cyathophora*) thrives best in open woods and floodplains in the wild. The genus name, "*Euphorbia*", comes from Euphorbus, the ancient Greek physician to King Juba II, who lived in Numidia. The variant name of "*cyathophora*" is a conglomeration of two Greek words and translates to "cup-bearer" referring to the cup-shaped base of the flower.
Asthma-plant (Euphorbia hirta) is a ground-hugging spurge weed whose branches can grow to 61 cm long. It blooms from summer through early fall, dying off after the first frost. A milky sap will seep from broken stems or leaves. It can be a nuisance weed that reproduces rapidly.
Irish spurge's defining feature is its yellow-green flowers that bloom between late spring and mid-summer. It is a wildflower that grows in woodlands and alongside streams and hedges. Many species within the spurge family are poisonous to eat and touch, so caution is recommended.
Hyssop-leaf sandmat (Euphorbia hyssopifolia) is a sandmat that’s indigenous to the southwestern part of the United States. A sandmat is a plant in the genus of Euphorbia that thrives best in deserts. Hyssop-leaf sandmat has a milk-white sap in its stem—just like the milkweed. It’s also known as hyssop spurge, eyebane, wart weed, and chicken weed.
Matted Sandmat is an annual weed that grows flat along the ground into a matted form. It has a long tap root and hardy seeds, which make it difficult to eradicate. This plant’s sap can irritate the skin and is toxic.
Silver thicket (Euphorbia stenoclada) is a succulent shrub that is often planted in gardens and cultivated as a houseplant. Due to silver thicket's sharp spines, caution should be exercised when planting it in gardens so that children and pets won't be injured by it. In addition, this species produces a milky sap that can cause blindness if exposed to the eyes and irritation if exposed to the skin. It should be grown in full sunlight and well-drained soil.
Pine-cone plant (Euphorbia bupleurifolia) is a dwarf succulent endemic to South Africa where it prefers acidic soil. This species is commonly planted as an ornamental houseplant and grows best in well-drained soil and plentiful sunlight. Wild populations are declining due to human harvesting.
Euphorbia (Euphorbia neriifolia var. cristata) is a fast-growing succulent native to India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. Euphorbia is valued for its crested nature and ability to grow into unique sculptural shapes. This species is considered easy to grow when cultivated as a houseplant. It should be grown in well-drained soil in plentiful sunlight.
Crown of thorns
The Euphorbia milii is commonly known as the crown of thorns or Christ thorn, as it is believed to the plant associated with the crown of thorns that was worn by Christ. It needs to stay above 10 ℃ with full sun.
Pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli) is a small tree shrub that grows best in warm arid climates and is named for its pencil-sized succulent branches. Pencil cactus is native to black clay soils in Africa and can be poisonous if ingested. It produces a latex compound that can be poisonous and cause blindness.
Devil's-backbone (Euphorbia tithymaloides) is a succulent species of spurge native to North and Central America. It has been planted in gardens since the 17th century and valued for its unique appearance and its habit of attracting hummingbirds. However, nearly all parts of this species are toxic and should not be consumed.
Toothed spurge (Euphorbia dentata) has jagged leaves with toothed edges which explains both its common and Latin names (dentata means "toothed"). This spurge is a first-growth species that occupies disturbed land like roadsides and waste ground. The plant is classed as a noxious weed in some US states.
Native to Turkey and Southeast Europe, the eggleaf Spurge is an invasive weed that can grow up to three feet tall and its dense population can displace indigenous plants. This plant needs to be handled with care as the white sap from its stem can cause skin irritation and is toxic to livestock when ingested.
Graceful spurge (Euphorbia hypericifolia) is a perennial flowering bush that blooms all year round. This species grows best in full sunlight or partial shade. Graceful spurge is resistant to rabbits and deer due to its toxic sap. This species is often cultivated as an ornamental plant and grown in containers, hanging baskets and gardens. Gardeners should wear gloves when handling graceful spurge due to its toxic sap.
Spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata) is a low-growing summer annual that is commonly considered a weed. Spotted spurge grows in almost any open area. The stems of this species secrete a milky sap that can irritate the skin and is toxic to sheep. Spotted spurge can be controlled by digging up the plant and its roots and mulching the area to prevent regrowth. It is naturally killed by frost.
The cypress spurge is an ornamental plant native to Europe. Because of its strong tendency to overrun the habitats of other species, this plant is classified as a noxious weed in various states, including Colorado. Although this plant attracts bees and other pollinators, some sections of it are hazardous and contain irritants.
African milk tree
African milk tree (Euphorbia trigona) is a perennial species from Central Africa. African milk tree grows best in sandy soils and can root easily from cuttings. This species produces latex that can be a skin irritant. It is often planted as a houseplant and is used as a ritual plant in Gabon.
The poinsettia is a common sight in the United States during Christmastime. It was popularized by Albert Ecke after he emigrated to California from Germany. Today, 70 million poinsettias are sold in a 6-week period.
Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus) is an annual plant from Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is fast-growing and has become invasive in some countries because it outcompetes other species for resources such as moisture and sunlight. Petty spurge latex is mildly toxic, has nevertheless attracted the attention of researchers in the US and Germany who hope to isolate useful compounds from it.
Stony creek spurge
Stony creek spurge are annual, biennial or perennial herbs, woody shrubs, or trees with a caustic, poisonous milky latex. The roots are fine or thick and fleshy or tuberous. Many species are more or less succulent, thorny, or unarmed. The main stem and mostly also the side arms of the succulent species are thick and fleshy, 15 to 91 cm tall. The deciduous leaves may be opposite, alternate, or in whorls. In stony creek spurge, flowers occur in a head, called the cyathium (plural cyathia). The fruits are three- or rarely two-compartment capsules, sometimes fleshy, but almost always ripening to a woody container that then splits open, sometimes explosively. The seeds are four-angled, oval, or spherical, and some species have a caruncle. The genus has over or about 2,000 members. The genus can be found all over the world.
Care Guide for Spurges