Common Name: Spurge
Appearance: Variable plants in height, some have a succulent, cactus-like appearance.
Flowers: Insignificant flowers surrounded by colourful bracts usually in autumn-winter.
Features: White milky sap can irritate skin. DO NOT INGEST AT ALL.
Requirements: Adaptable to a variety of soil types. Most prefer well drained conditions. Most grow best between 18 and 24oC, tropical to temperate climates tolerated. Protect from strong winds.
Culture: Require pruning after main flowering period to reshape the plant. Fertilise at 2 or 3 monthly intervals for maximum growth and floral display. Flower best in maximum sunlight. Propagate by cuttings.
Pest & Disease: Thrips and spider mites - only treat when problems detected.
Species & Varieties:
Over 1,600 species, including:
E. antiquotum -A spiny succulent shrub to 4m. Best in full sun.
E. cotinifolia -Attractive copper red toned leaves. Good for border displays and hedging to 6m. Must have full sun.
E. fulgens (Scarlet Plume) -To 1m tall shrub with pendulant leaves and red bracts.
E. lactea -Architectural shape like a series of tall upright poles.
E. lactea 'cristata' -Compact, contorted, thick fan shaped variegated growth making a dense shrub to around 1m tall.
E. leucocephala (Snowflake) -Grey green leaves with white autumn flowering bracts. Small shrub usually to 3m. Frost tender. Can be semi deciduous in colder areas. Various forms available: eg. 'Pink Finale' -Rich green foliage, white autumn bracts turn pink in winter.
E. pseudocactus -Looks like a cactus, has upright branching ribbed stems and thorns, to 1.5m tall, without distinct leaves.
E. pulcherrima (Poinsettia) -Medium shrub with green lobed leaves and bright red/white/pink bracts in autumn. Often used as an indoor foliage plant.
Many named varieties exist. In sub tropics or temperate climates, flowering can be stimulated by shortening day length to around 10 hours.
E. millii var. splendens (Crown of thorns) -A small thorny plant to 1m with red or white flowers. May lose leaves in dry conditions but will continue to flower.
E. tirucalli (Milkbush) -Fast growing succulent plant to 10m, but usually only 2m. Columnar when young but broader when mature.
Want to Learn More?
Tropical Plants Course: www.hortcourses.com/courses/tropical-plants-bht234-404.aspx