Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wildflower Wednesday: Flowering Spurge

It's Wildflower Wednesday and today's star, Euphorbia corollata, is looking particularly lovely in the midst of the other late summer flowers. It's almost unnoticeable in the garden at most other times. I often forget it's there until the tiny white blooms grab my attention in early August.

You probably won't be surprised to hear that this is another underappreciated wildflower seen on the sides of roads. In fact, I had driven by a large patch for years before someone pointed it out to me. It wasn't long after an up close look at them that I located and purchased three for my garden. (GroWild native Nursery in Fairview, TN)

I love it and am here to recommend it to you all.
Photographer: Smith, R.W.

Euphorbia corollata is special. It has small white flowers with yellow centers that are held above dusty-green foliage. Several sites describe it as resembling Gypsophila/Baby's Breath flower heads. I have never seen Baby's Breath except in photos, so I can't say whether that's a good comparison or not. I just know I like Flowering Spurge's pretty delicate flowers. It blooms from July into September in both full sun and shade in my garden. It's a wonderful white flower addition to a late summer garden that is filled with yellow composites. It's also a deer and drought resistant plant.

Let's see~delicate white flowers in late summer, easy peasy care, long bloom time and drought and deer resistance, that all adds up to a keeper in my book.
there are both male and female flowers on the plant

The particulars:

Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)

Botanical Name: Euphorbia corollata

Common Names: Flowering Spurge

Tennessee Native: Yes. I've seen it growing in Couchville Cedar Glade.

Native range:
Hardiness: Zones 3a to 9b

Soil: Prefers dry, well draining areas.

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Flower: Sprays of tiny flowers cover this plant in mid-summer. The small green nectar glands and their extensions can easily be mistaken for petals on this interesting flower. Euphorbias have male and female flowers on the same plants, I find the developing fruit quite interesting to observe.

Autumn color: The leaves and stem can color from pinkish-red to scarlet color.

Wildlife value: Attracts all kinds of wasps, small bees, flies, small butterflies and predatory or parasatoid insects that prey upon pest insects. Please follow the link to  Illinois Wildflowers to find an extensive list of faunal associations. Flowering Spurge is rarely eaten by mammalian herbivores because of the toxic white latex in its foliage.

Toxic: Contact with plant, especially its milky sap, can cause irritation of skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.

Where to plant: This tap rooted plant needs to go into the ground as soon as possible. It doesn't thrive in a container.
the  fruit/pods split and expel their seed

Saving Flowering Spurge Seeds: This plant produces small pods that will split and expel their seed when completely ripe. Gather the pods as soon as they begin to dry, but before they split. Spread the pods out to dry in a protected location, keeping in mind that they may still explode. Separate the seed from the husks. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.

Flowering Spurge Germination: Direct sow in late fall, pressing the seeds into the surface of the soil. Seeds require 30 days of cold stratification for germination. The plant will self-seed.
The source for seed collection and germination information; you can also order seeds.

Comments: I like this plant so much that I keep adding more to my garden. This is a hardy plant, even though it looks delicate. If it can survive a cedar glade, then it can survive almost anything we gardeners throw at it. The only thing I find troubling is my inability to take a good photo of it.

I hope you'll consider adding Flowering Spurge to your garden, despite the unattractive name, it's really quite a lovely addition to a native plant garden.

Happy Wildflower gardening

Welcome to Wildflower Wednesday and thank you for stopping by to see Euphorbia corollata
a sweet wildflower that you'll rarely see in a nursery, but, might see out your car window as you drive down a county road. Thanks also, for joining in and if you are new to Wildflower Wednesday, it's about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if your wildflower is in bloom or not and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. I have not seen the little beauty before. I will be looking for it here in MS. Thanks for hosting Wildflower Wednesday. Have a great day!

  2. What a sweet little flower. I will look for this.

  3. I have these popping up here and there. I tend to leave them when I'm weeding and I'm rewarded this time of year with their cute tiny flowers scattered throughout my semi wild garden.

    Thanks for hosting Wildflower Wednesday. See you next month.

  4. I am thinking I got mine at a Nebraska Statewide Arboretum plant sale. They have self sown a little. I love them, and looking to see what insects are on them. I have a bare spot I am wanting to get more going in.

  5. This is a plant I've probably seen growing in the wild here and didn't know what it was. Such pretty little blooms! I beg to differ--your photos of it are wonderful!

  6. Garden Spurge, while out today I bet I will see this everywhere. I have probably weeded it out of my garden a million times and never paid any attention.
    Jeannie @ GetMeToTheCountry.Blogspot.com

  7. Yes, I do believe I need to plant this one. I need rabbit-repelling companions to the Asters, Blue Mistflower, and Anise Hyssop that the rabbits are eating down to the ground. Even caging isn't keeping out the baby rabbits. They are even eating some of my Alliums. But I think the Euphorbias are poisonous to them, so that will be my next strategy. Thanks!

    1. Glad to help in the battle with rabbits. Rabbits and deer in my garden have eaten my beautiful Heucheras...The voles get the roots of lots of these.

  8. Oh yes it is lovely when domesticated, maybe much more in the wild. It is unnoticed only maybe because there are bigger flowers there beside it as is common in cold climes. Thanks for hosting, i had the chance not to forget it today.

  9. What a precious little thing. I have never noticed it here, but I'll look for it.~~Dee

  10. I bought two Flowering Spurge plants once and could never find them again. I'm hoping they start to self-seed a little. Right now they are hidden, but I think they would be impressive en masse. I learned more about this plant from your post, thanks!

  11. Euphorbias come in so many varieties. Haven't seen one here with those delicate petals like a true flower. But in my garden mauretanica is blooming, in the expected Euphorbia lime green, and will be a substantial shrub.
    While out hiking I was introduced to a groundcover Euphorbia!

  12. I don't think I've seen it, but then, dry, well-draining soil is rarity here.

  13. Flowering Spurge has been written about in three different blogs recently, it must be a trend! Though I prefer the common name Prairie Baby's Breath.

  14. Your flowering spurge is beautiful. The only spurge in my garden is prostrate spurge, otherwise know as a weed - but not very noticeable.

  15. Now that's definitely a spurge I would welcome in my garden. We have so many ugly ones. we also have a small white flowering plant at this time of the year. The flowers are rather small and clustered together. I must go take a close look at it and see if it might be the same as you have Texas in its field of distribution.

  16. I was walking today up my neighbors driveway, a ridge slope to the top, along the way up I spied several of these! I had not noticed them before! Have been walking here for years but this year I am starting to study native edible plants and am more aware of what is showing up on my walk! Johnson City, TN (East TN)

  17. Susan, Johnson City,TNJuly 27, 2022 at 8:44 AM

    I was walking today- 7/27/22 up my neighbors driveway that goes up to a ridgetop and woodland area, I noticed this flower and the leaves. It is in shade/dappled shade and leafy forested ground. There is a small grouping of perhaps a dozen in their prime of bloom. It is a small bloomed flower in a flat formed grouping and not as solid looking as a yarrow but more like a overall garden cultivated yarrow plant with a lighter and spaced out blooms. Just lovely! Quite tall, about 18-24" with just the one compound blooms head.! Came to look it up and so happy to find it here!


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson