I am crazy about our native Euphorbias and have several in the garden that I hope always to have. My favorite is our Wildflower Wednesday star, Euphorbia corollata.
It's a wonderful white flower addition to a late summer garden that is filled with yellow composites.
Flowering spurge is special. It has small white flowers with yellow centers with a touch of green that are held above dusty-green foliage. It's almost unnoticeable in the garden before it blooms and I often forget it's there until the tiny white blooms grab my attention in early August.
|the foliage contains a toxic white latex
What makes it special are the unique flowers, long bloom time (up to six weeks), incredible seed heads, ability to tolerate any soil (just give it good drainage) and attractive glabrous foliage which often turns a lovely shade of pink or red in the fall.
It blooms in both full sun and part shade in my garden. It's also a deer and drought resistant plant. Both pluses in a garden visited by deer and with droughty summer months.
It prefers a poor soil which reduces competition from other plants. That worked well until the Partridge pea moved in! I will have to edit some out or they will crowd it out next year!
|Flowering Spurge has a whorled stem which produces branches that contain numerous flowers.
Like its relative the poinsettia, the flowers are actually modified leaves; the "real" flowers are small, golden structures in the middle of the white bracts.
|After bloom, female flowers become capsules, each containing three seeds. The capsules split open to eject their seeds.
Euphorbias share some important characteristics.
- First, they all secrete milky, caustic, latex sap when injured—an adaptation that likely evolved to discourage predators.
- Flowers grow in a cyathium, a structure found nowhere else in the plant kingdom.
- A cyathium consists of fused bracts that form a small cup and hold a group of tiny flowers
- Both male and female flowers on the plant
- cool developing seedheads
Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)
Botanical Name: Euphorbia corollata
Common Names: Flowering Spurge
Native range: Hardiness: Zones 3a to 9b
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.
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.
Leave links in comments section, please. Mr Linky is not working.
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.
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.