Created 3-Mar-18
Modified 3-Mar-18
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Euphorbia characias

Mediterranean Spurge

New Zealand Status: Introduced
Conservation Status: Naturalised

Euphorbia characias, commonly known as the Mediterranean Spurge, is a flowering annual or perennial herb that grows as a shrub or bush up to about 1 metre high with many stems.

Leaves are 40-100mm long, alternate, entire, linear or oblanceolate, deep blue-green coloured with a lighter mid-vein on green tinged purple stems. Flowers occur in spring, are lime gold coloured, unisexual, with characteristic black or dark brown nectar glands in the cyathia. Seeds are smooth, rounded, light brown or grey, about 3mm long. A number of commercial cultivars are available in a variety of colours, from silvery grey and bluish green to greenish yellow.

Two main subspecies are found in different regions of the Mediterranean Basin; Euphorbia characias subsp. characias from Portugal to Crete and Euphorbia characias subsp. Wulfenii from Southern France to Anatolia.
Euphorbia characias, Mediterranean Spurge Young PlantEuphorbia characias, Mediterranean Spurge