Euphorbia characias wulfenii

4 Feb

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii (29/03/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii (29/03/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun and partial shade

Soil: Moist, well drained

Flowering period: Spring, each stem flowering in the second year

Eventual Height: 1.2m

Eventual Spread: 1.2m

Hardiness: 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Euphorbia characias wulfenii is an evergreen perennial.  A many stemmed shrub with an upright spreading habit, the stems directly bear whorls of obovate leaves. The inflorescence presents on second  year ‘wood’ in the form of large clumps of bright green to yellow involucres surrounding similarly yellow green nectar glands.

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii Flower (29/03/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii Flower (29/03/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia characias  wulfenii,  commonly known as Mediterranean Spurge, is native to Southern France to Anatolia. The sap of the Euphorbia plant has been used in traditional medicine in many historical texts. This sticky, white and toxic sap was applied externally to treat skin conditions such as cancer, tumors and warts. It is worth noting that some people may have an allergic reaction to this sap.

The etymological root of the binomial name Euphorbia is named after Euphorbus, physician to Juba, a king of Mauritania. Characias is derived from xaraxias, the ancient name Dioscorides used for this species. Wulfenii is named after Wulfen, a professor of botany.

Euphorbia characias wulfenii is useful to the landscape architect for its evergreen foliage and  flowers during the late winter/ early spring period. This plant may also useful to the landscape architect in xeriscaping landscapes. Once again care must be taken in its location as every part of the plant is toxic if ingested and the sap can cause skin irritation.

Ecologically, Euphorbia characias wulfenii is attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds (geographic location permitting).

The Royal Horticultural Society have given a number of varieties of Euphorbia characias wulfenii their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii Leaf (29/03/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii Leaf (29/03/2015, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia characias wulfenii prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Euphorbia characias wulfenii  requires little maintenance. The flowering stalks may be removed to ground level once flowering has finished (usually June) to encourage the growth of new shoots. Care must be taken to only remove the old flowering spikes and not the one year old shoots, as these will provide flower the following year. Clumps will usually last five to six years and their replacement should be considered at this point. Clumps may be divided in March or April. This may reinvigorate a declining clump and bulk up your existing group.

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One Response to “Euphorbia characias wulfenii”

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  1. euphorbia plant - 12/05/2011

    […] Plant of the week: Euphorbia characias wulfenii В« landscape … Feb 4, 2011 … The sap of the Euphorbia plant has been used in traditional medicine in many historical texts. … […]

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