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EUPHORBIA characias

Image of Euphorbia characias

Carol Cloud Bailey

Family

Euphorbiaceae

Botanical Name

EUPHORBIA characias

Plant Common Name

Mediterranean Spurge

General Description

Massive, bright green flower heads top the leafy, hairy stems of Mediterranean spurge in springtime. This upright, shrubby perennial is native to the western Mediterranean, where it thrives in upland, open, seaside sites with dry, sharply drained soil.

Dense whorls of narrow, grayish green leaves encircle the purplish, hairy stems of Mediterranean spurge, adding to its bold, architectural looks. The foliage remains evergreen to semi-evergreen through winter. Airy, rounded flower clusters are displayed at the stem tips in spring. These are composed of many showy, bright green to yellow-green, cup-shaped bracts (petal-like leaves), which hold small, inconspicuous, dark brown male and female flowers.

Provide this bold garden beauty with full sun and very well-drained soil with average fertility. Wet or poorly-drained soils can cause root and stem rot and should be avoided. The stems may be cut to the ground immediately after flowering to rejuvenate new foliage. As with all euphorbs, Mediterranean spurge emits milky latex when cut, which may be irritating to the skin, so it's wise to wear gloves when pruning it back.

Plant this spurge as a large background specimen in rock gardens or hot, dry mixed borders. The spring flowers look especially nice as a backdrop to colorful spring bulbs.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 7

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Mediterranean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow Green, Light Green, Chartreuse, Lime Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Purple, Dark Salmon

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Foundation, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes