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Euphorbia characias (Mediterranean Spurge)


Scientific Name

Euphorbia characias L.

Common Names

Albanian Spurge, Mediterranean Spurge


Characias purpurea, Esula characias, Euphorbia cretica, Euphorbia cuatrecasasii, Euphorbia eriocarpa, Euphorbia lycia, Euphorbia melapetala, Euphorbia messeniaca, Euphorbia rubens, Euphorbia sibthorpii, Euphorbia veneta, Euphorbia wulfenii, Galarhoeus creticus, Tithymalus characias, Tithymalus melapetalus, Tithymalus purpureus, Tithymalus serotina, Tithymalus sibthorpii, Tithymalus venetus, Tithymalus wulfenii

Scientific Classification

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia


Euphorbia characias is a compact evergreen shrub with grey-green leaves that grow in spirals around many upright stems. It grows up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and about the same in width. From spring to early summer, at the top of the stems, it produces bottlebrush-shaped clusters of cyathia with yellow-green bracts and characteristic black or dark brown nectar glands. Fruits are round and hairy capsules.

Euphorbia characias - Mediterranean Spurge


USDA hardiness zones 7a to 10b: from 0 °F (−17.8 °C) to 40 °F (+4.4 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Euphorbias are very easy to care for. These plants require a little pampering to become established, but once they are, they are self-sufficient. In fact, more die from too much care and watering than from neglect. Euphorbias need well-draining soil and lots of sunlight. They are not particular about soil pH, but they cannot tolerate wet soil. Unlike most succulents, Euphorbia does not handle long periods of drought well. It may need weekly watering during the summer. Water whenever the soil is dry several inches below the surface. Water deeply, but don't let them sit in wet soil, which can cause root rot. Add some organic matter or fertilizer to the planting hole. If you are growing them in containers or your soil is poor, feed with a half-strength fertilizer monthly.

These succulents can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate (or even find). They are usually propagated by cuttings. This can be tricky because of the exuding sap. Rooting hormone is recommended with Euphorbias. They tend to grow problem-free, but there are a few pests and diseases to be alert for. See more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.


Native to the Mediterranean region.



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