Diverse genus of about 2,000 species, ranging from small flowery annuals to sculptural trees. The flower is technically a cyathium, consisting of fused bracts that form a cup around the much-reduced true flowers. Cyathia may appear singly or in clusters. In some cases, as with poinsettia (E. pulcherrima), additional bracts below provide most of the color. The fruit is usually a dry capsule that releases seeds explosively, shooting them up to several feet away. Many euphorbias are succulents; these often mimic cacti in appearance and are as diverse in form and size.
All euphorbias have milky white sap that is irritating on contact or toxic if ingested (degree of irritation or toxicity varies, depending on the species). Before using cut flowers in arrangements, dip stems in boiling water or hold in a flame for a few seconds to prevent sap bleed. All need well-drained soil.
Native from southern Europe to central Asia. Grows to 6 in. high and 1–1 1/2 ft. wide. Evergreen plant with stems that trail outward from a central crown, then rise toward the tips. Stiff, roundish blue-gray leaves are set closely in spirals around stems. Flattish clusters of chartreuse to yellow flowers top stem ends in late winter, early spring. Cut out old stems as they turn yellow. Withstands cold, heat, and aridity but is short-lived in warm-winter areas. Use in a sunny rock garden with succulents and gray-leafed plants.
Grows to 2 ft. tall. Smooth deep green leaves with yellow variegation have a spicy apple fragrance and...
Native to Japan, China, and Korea. Twines to 15–30 ft. Grows fast in mild regions, more slowly w...
Native to Europe. Creeping perennials that spread by surface and underground runners to form low, dens...