Euphorbia Species, Mediterranean Spurge

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii

Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)
Species: characias subsp. wulfenii
Synonym:Euphorbia lycia
Synonym:Euphorbia melapetala
Synonym:Euphorbia wulfenii
Synonym:Tithymalus melapetalus
Synonym:Tithymalus wulfenii
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:



18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

Flowers are good for drying and preserving

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Kingman, Arizona

Alamo, California

Alpine, California

Brentwood, California

Clayton, California

Eureka, California

Los Angeles, California

Milpitas, California

Novato, California

Pasadena, California

Pittsburg, California

San Clemente, California

San Leandro, California

Santa Cruz, California

Sonoma, California

Woodland, California

Atlanta, Georgia

Gainesville, Georgia

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tekamah, Nebraska

Roswell, New Mexico

Webster, New York

Burlington, North Carolina

Medford, Oregon

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Belton, Texas

Dayton, Texas

Issaquah, Washington

North Bend, Washington

White Center, Washington

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 14, 2016, mlml from Penngrove, CA wrote:

This is a serious wild land pest. Your plants can invade into wild lands because birds and rodents spread the seed.
Here's a post from Portland Oregon.

Better not to encourage nurseries to carry it.


On Nov 10, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A mainstay of fine British gardens. A woody-based herbaceous perennial with great garden presence. Short-lived, but easily replaced by self-sown seedlings.

Flowering stems decline after going to seed, and should be cut off at the base before seeding if self-sown seedlings are not wanted.

Does well in Mediterranean climates. Hardy in Z7, it suffers in the hot humid summers of the southeastern US. Drought tolerant, but does best with occasional summer watering. Requires sharp drainage---wet soil in winter can be fatal.

Deer-resistant, it tolerates salt and air pollution as well as drought.

The milky sap can cause a bad rash in some people. If you get it in your eye it can cause blindness.

This subspecies differs from ... read more


On Nov 23, 2014, saya from Heerlen,
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

Sue-one has sent me seeds a few years ago and since then it makes a show every spring in my garden with tulips and daffodils. But also in other seasons it is handsome because it stays wintergreen and it has a perfect round habit. I cut the stems that have flowered after flowering, also to prevent it to seed around to much. By that it is not a problem to have it in my garden. I wait with cutting the stems as long as possible, just at the moment the seeds have ripened. Why? Because it still looks so handsome until that time comes. Seedlings are easy to pick up to remove, to plant elsewhere or to give away...because in flower it really is a show stopper. Its flowerheads are really heads, bigger than a football and a feast for the bees. If the shrub gets a little tatty after 5 or 6 years I sim... read more


On May 22, 2011, nmcnear from Novato, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Interesting foliage, bright yellow inflorescences, and easy care make this plant a good addition to many gardens in mild climates... Just make sure to cut off the flowering branches when the seeds are developing to prevent it from spreading! Sticky, irritating sap oozes from the tiniest of wounds to the plant, so use gloves when handling or pruning it.


On May 22, 2003, HifromPEI wrote:

This plant is very attractive throughout the season but it is very invasive - it has taken over the bed I had it in as well as the one next to it and unlike other invasive plants like orange lantern - it is hard to get all of the roots as they are tiny.