euphor(b)ia

What's the difference between euphoria and euphorbia?

Answer - one attracts bees and also has a bee in its name.

Euphorbia, also known as spurge or gopher plant, used to be little known round here, near the bottom of the world. When drought threatened the viability of many well known horticultural favourites, growers realized that here were a number of useful, tough, drought resistant and attractive species. Soon they seemed to be everywhere - in nurseries, parks and gardens.
They generously spill their seed and spread throughout the garden. This is a good thing although sometimes it is a bit too much of a good thing.
They’re not pretty in a floral sense, but are very striking, with interesting strong structural shapes and colours that change through the seasons.
They know how to defend themselves. When you cut them they bleed a sticky white fluid. When this touches the skin it stings and causes a rash. If it gets in your eyes it’s really scary and has been known to cause temporary blindness.
These plants have a family all to their selves: Euphorbiaceae. They also have a society devoted to them. The International Euphorbia Society informs us that it is one the largest families in the world of plants, including about 300 genera and 7,500 species. And these stats do not even include the numerous forms, varieties, and undescribed species!
Currently three species grow in my garden: from top, E.rigida, E.martinii and E.characis wulfenii. They are incredibly interesting, attractive, reliable and useful design-wise. What else could you want from a garden plant?

Comments

  1. Such a useful plant in our gardens anyway.
    Botanically it is fascinating and the milky sap a complex thing.

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  2. I don't have any euphorbia in my garden, but I plan to. My gardening dad spent his last years in a nursing home and the last thing he ever said, before he gave up talking altogether, was euphorbia when my sister asked him what the name of that plant was that he always called 'babies cradle'.

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  3. dear Hermes, thanks for the comment. I did read some scientific chemical descriptions of the milky sap but decided to go with simplicity.

    Dear Hazel, what a lovely moving story about your gardening dad. I've never heard of babies cradle. I wonder which one it was - there are so many variants.

    Cheers, catmint

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  4. I'm a BIG fan of Euphorbias too. I only have E. wulfenii at the moment, taken as a self seeded baby from my mums garden but they havn't liked my flood plain soil.

    I do love the purple / black forms of martenii that Lambley Nursery sell!

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  5. Do you have Euphorbia mellifera where you are? You ask what else does a plant need....perfume ! this one has a perfume which travels all over the garden, wonderful smell of honey comes to you on the breeze, its my favouite euphorbia for this reason.

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  6. Thanks for the interesting post from one of my favorite plant families. The big winner here is E.cotonifolia which is a large shrub with beautiful burgundy foliage

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  7. Euphorbia are gorgeous- I can't get enough of them. To be honest though, cockatoos I've had visiting have been repulsed by the white sap...I wonder, if thay proliferate, will they do damage to our birds?

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  8. I don't know much about this plant but I think I see it often here. It was interesting to finally get to know this plant from your post:).

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  9. Ours is mauretanica (= south of the Sahara, how vague is that!), and fire sticks.

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  10. There are a few types of euphorbia that grow here in the northeastern USA, though I'm pretty sure that they aren't the same kinds that you have in your garden, because of the very different climate. There are even a couple of kinds that grow so well that they are considered invasive plants.

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  11. I don't have any but you're encouraging me to put some in for sure...

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  12. Dear Phoebe, thanks for the comment. I guess they probably would prefer dry soil, but they've done Ok in the wet recently, I guess because the soil is well drained.

    Hi Pauline, I am aware of this plant. My favourite local nursery Diggers Club sells it. But I haven't found a place for it in the garden so far. Scent would make it truly wonderful, honey scent even better.

    Dear Ian, thanks for the comment, I'm not aware of this plant, I'll have to check it out.

    Hi Faisal, you've raised a good and serious point whether there is danger to native birds in the poisonous sap. I haven't noticed birds around the euphorbia. I hope they are savvy enough to avoid it.

    Hi MKZ, it's wonderful sharing our knowledge and experience, isn't it? Many of the plants you talk about are completely new to me too.

    Dear RPS77, so pleased you visited and commented. There is such a vast variety of plants in this family, they grow all over the world in all climates. From my experience I am not surprised some are considered weeds.

    Hi Mrs B, Maybe you'd be better without them? That nasty sap will not be good for chooks or children.

    Cheers, catmint

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  13. Dear Diana, thanks for the comment. Those species do sound exotically African! cheers, catmint

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  14. Euphorbias are every where here also! Most of them are easy-to-grow and look really wonderful in the garden. They don't mind the rain either. So great plants to have :-D

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  15. I have never grown any before but I think the structure of the plants are so fascinating. I like a little resowing too if it does not get carries away.LOL! Have a terrific week!

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  16. Hi Catmint, i was attracted to your blog coz we almost got the same template, and we both did not bother to put a photo on the header! And when i got in your green Euphorbia is amazing! havent seen that in person! My mother has the E millii but i read its milky sap is very poisonous, and the thorns are not very good around.

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  17. Hi Stephanie, they are very varied, some come from Africa and others in your tropical climate. I did notice some when I was in Cambodia.

    Hi Lona, yes they really are structural plants. Thanks for the good wishes.

    Hi Andrea, I'm so pleased you found my blog. I 'm not familiar with thorns on euphorbia but the sap is a definite drawback.

    Cheers, catmint

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  18. I tried a couple of these a few years ago with little luck. I saw them on discount at our garden center and passed on them for something else. I should have given them a second chance....

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  19. I love the look of this plant although I am such a klutz I am sure I would fall prey to temporary blindness.

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  20. Hi Skeeter, maybe next time ... there are so many wonderful plants available.

    Hi Cheri, the plants have a sign on them: klutzes: beware!!!!!!!! plant at your own risk (lol)

    cheers, catmint

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