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Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ (photo courtesy of PlantHaven International, Inc.)
Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ (photo courtesy of PlantHaven International, Inc.)

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Zones 2B, 3-9, 14-17, 31-34
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Ample WaterRegular Water
Ample, Moderate
Sap is irritating or poisonous

Euphorbia palustris

Perennials, Flowers


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.

Euphorbia palustris (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Euphorbia palustris (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Euphorbia palustris

From Europe and western Asia. Forms a robust clump to 3 ft. tall and wide, with many medium green, 2–3-in. leaves that turn yellow and orange in fall. Wide-branching clusters of yellow flowers in spring, early summer. Dies back in winter. Self-sows. One of the few euphorbias that will grow in damp or boggy conditions; also does well in ordinary garden soil, whether dry or moist.

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