Euphorbia Large

The Aliens Have Bloomed: Euphorbia

I like to post flora on Fridays that are blooming in my area so a few weeks ago when I was touring the Olympic fun I noticed that skunky smell which could only mean the Euphorbia is in bloom.

Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii, or Wood Spurge, is the most common of the Euphorbia found in Vancouver although there are so many other varietals available, a few of which you’ll find in most any Eastside garden.  Though considered a perennial, Euphorbia characias acts more like a shrub growing 2′-4′ tall and 2′-3′ wide. In late winter,  neon green bracts (flowers) bloom atop spiky blue-green evergreen foliage creating quite a show. The alien-like eyes and the stink should be warning enough not to go messing with this plant unprotected, but if you a dead-set on taking pruners to these monsters, be forewarned the milky sap is toxic and can burn your skin if not handled properly.  Best to observe from afar unless of course you want to get some cool close up shots.

Interestingly, I took these photos at Granville Island where I ran into some real aliens on parade.  Big Nazo liked this photo my hubby took of their Carnival Band and used it on their blog.  I’m glad they liked the photo as I really liked seeing tall one-eyed aliens, mechanical-looking machine men, and spirited green faces with no torsos.

About the Author : Stephanie Rose

A city girl who learned to garden and it changed everything. Author, artist, Master Gardener. Better living through plants.

View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings
    Dee @ Red Dirt RamblingsMarch 12,10

    Dearly love the Euphorbias, and I’m thinking of adding a couple to my garden this year. Along with Hellebores, they are a fave.~~Dee

  2. Meredith
    MeredithMarch 12,10

    I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered this plant. Or not that I have realized. But you’d think I’d remember the milky toxic sap, the unpleasant smell, and those darling little bracts. Great pics!

  3. Brad B
    Brad BMarch 12,10

    I have had to cut euphorbia in too many gardens to still like it. No matter now careful I am, I get some of the sap on my skin. If I could admire it from afar, I would like it alot more.

  4. melanie watts
    melanie wattsMarch 14,10

    I’ve never encountered this plant either, perhaps because it is not hardy where I live. Love the aliens on parade photo.

  5. Stevie
    StevieMarch 14,10

    I’m surprised that some of you have not come into contact with Euphorbias – there are just so many of there here. I love the variety, colours and certainly the texture they add to the garden, so much so that I can overlook thier downfalls. Thanks for sharing your comments!

  6. Elisabeth
    ElisabethMarch 15,10

    Great pictures this week. I loved your paintings and look forward to purchasing one.

  7. Bev
    BevMay 18,10

    I have not encountered Euphorbia myself, but just bought a plant. It is labelled Breathless Blush Euphorbia, and has tiny leaves with a red centre, and small white flowers. It looks great, but will it stink???

    • Stevie
      StevieMay 18,10

      Hi Bev, I imagine that they all have a bit of an odor, but the ones I was talking about end up being a shrub 4 feet high and wide so it is much more prominent. I think you’ll be fine. enjoy!

  8. Helena
    HelenaMay 31,10

    dude. the Euphorbias spread like wildfire. Consider potting those suckers if you have to plant them.

    • Stevie
      StevieJune 3,10

      Helena, thanks for your comment. If you are worried about the invasiveness of them, there are many different euphorbias that are not invasive – and of course it depends on your area. I have never had an issue controlling them in my climate and they are very popular here as they stay mostly evergreen in mild winters.

Leave a Reply