Meet Spurge

Spurge is a Euphorbia.

Euphorbia is the 'last' name for a huge family of familiar plants - annuals, perennials, shrubs and succulents. Think poinsettia and you have their characteristics, bracts instead of flowers and milky sap. But unlike sub-tropical poinsettia, a few varieties of spurge are evergreen and tough enough to shine in our cold dark winters.

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Euphorbia Wulfenii can grow to over 1.2 m, or 4 ' high in South Delta.

In late spring, new stems emerge with blue-green leaves, changing to bright green by fall. They are often the only bright green to be seen in winter. In early spring flower-like bracts appear in a fresh yellowish-green/chartreuse glow. These bracts can last several months before they turn brown with ripening seed. Many people cut off the brown stems at the base, carefully avoiding contact with the sap and emerging new shoots.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' is a bit shorter, with variegated green, yellow - reds leaves that turn orange in fall and then rosy pink in winter. Clusters of showy, variegated cream, lime, and green bracts appear in early spring.

Euphorbia is on sale in fall, a good time to buy either of these four season plants.

Editor’s note: This column is part of a weekly online feature in partnership with the South Delta Garden Club. Columns appear every Tuesday at www.delta-optimist.com.

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