Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Euphorbia Mellifera

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Euphorbia mellifera Flower (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia mellifera Flower (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full Sun to light shade

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 2m

Eventual Spread: 2.5m

Hardiness: 9a – 10a

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Euphorbia mellifera is a fast growing dome shaped evergreen sub-shrub. Its bright green leaves are lanceolate with entire margins and have a white stripe down their centres. Its leaves are arranged in whorls around its stiff stems. Its red/ brown flowers are small, arranged in cymes, with leaf, cup like bracts and are fragrant, smelling of honey. Its fruit is a three compartment capsule, sometimes fleshy but almost always ripening to a woody container that splits open, ejecting the seed. Its seeds are 4 angled, oval or spherical.

Euphorbia mellifera (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia mellifera (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia mellifera, commonly known as Honey Spurge or Canary Spurge, is native to the islands off the Moroccan coast, including the Canary Islands and the Macaronesia.

The etymological root of the binomial name Euphorbia derives from Euphorbus, after the name of the Greek physician of King Juba II of Numidia. Mellifera is derived from the Latin mellifer meaning ‘honey producing’.

The landscape architect may find Euphorbia mellifera useful as an evergreen, plant with an architectural habit. Once established this plant is drought tolerant. Care should be when locating this plat as its sap may cause skin irritation in some people. It prefers a site protected from cold winds.

Euphorbia mellifera Leaf (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Euphorbia mellifera Leaf (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically,  E. mellifera is attractive to pollinating insects during the spring.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given E. mellifera their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 2002.

E. mellifera prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will not tolerate wet soils.

Euphorbia mellifera requires little maintenance. Over mature plants may be rejuvenated by cutting back hard.

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