Euphorbia stygiana – Azores spurge

pic of louise sims
Louise Sims

This is an interesting euphorbia at any time of the year, but it really comes into its own in the winter, most especially during a cold snap when some of the lower stem leaves turn a brilliant pillar-box red. It’s not a massive blast of colour; it is one of those small delights that catch you unawares as you turn a corner.

E stygiana is one of the rarer species, less often seen than E mellifera to which it is often unfairly compared. Its habit is quite different, lax even, open, and much broader than tall. Ours is at least two metres across and scarcely a metre high.

So, the Azores spurge is evergreen and pretty much hardy in most parts of the UK; the leaves are a darker green than mellifera, and almost waxy in appearance, with a pale midrib. In late spring or early summer, rusty yellow, honey-scented flowerheads develop, followed by attractive seed heads.

Remember, the islands of the Azores are pleasantly warm in summer and the winters are mild, so be kind to this spurge and plant it in as sunny and well drained a spot as you have, and give it some shelter if you can. 

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Great Plants this Month, Winter

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