Euphobia amygdaloides (Wood Spurge): History, Characteristics, Varieties & More

Euphobia amygdaloides, also known as the wood spurge, is a perennial plant that is native to Europe particularly the woodlands and shady areas of southern and central regions and also parts of Asia. It’s a member of the Euphorbiaceae family, which is a fancy way of saying it’s related to poinsettias and rubber plants.

The history of Euphobia amygdaloides can be traced back to ancient Greece, where it was used as a natural remedy for various ailments. The ancient Greeks believed that the plant had magical powers and could ward off evil spirits. They even used it in their religious ceremonies, which is a pretty big deal if you ask me.

Fast forward a few centuries, and Euphobia amygdaloides became a popular ornamental plant in gardens across Europe. It was prized for its bright green leaves and its ability to thrive in shady areas. In fact, it was so popular that it was even mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.

Nowadays, Euphobia amygdaloides is still a popular choice for gardeners, and it’s also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions. So, there you have it, the fascinating history of Euphobia amygdaloides.

Characteristics of Euphobia amygdaloides

  • Perennial: This plant is a perennial, it lives for more than two years, and its growth cycle continues for several years.
  • Evergreen: It is generally an evergreen plant, retaining its foliage throughout the year.
  • Woody shrub: It is a woody shrub, meaning it has a woody stem that remains upright and provides support to the plant.
  • Spreading habit: It has a spreading habit. It can grow horizontally and cover a larger area over time.
  • Height and spread: The plant reaches a height of 0.5 to 1 meter (1.6 to 3.3 feet) and a spread of 0.5 to 1 meter (1.6 to 3.3 feet) as well.
  • Growth rate: It has a moderate growth rate, growing steadily each year.
  • Zone: This plant is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9. It can tolerate a range of temperatures in these zones.
  • Light requirements: It prefers dappled sunlight or partial shade. It is suitable for planting under trees or in areas with filtered sunlight.
  • Soil: It can grow in a variety of soil types, including loam, sand, and clay, as long as the soil is well-drained.
  • Water requirements: It has moderate water needs and can tolerate occasional dry spells. It does not like to be waterlogged, so proper drainage is essential.
  • Bloom time: This plant blooms in mid-spring to early summer, producing small, bright yellow-green flowers that create a beautiful contrast against the dark green foliage.
  • Foliage: Euphobia amygdaloides has dark green, slightly hairy leaves that are 6 cm (2 inches) long and provide a lush appearance.
  • Toxicity: Like many other Euphorbia species, the wood spurge contains a toxic, milky sap that can cause skin irritation. It’s important to handle the plant with care and avoid contact with the sap.
  • Ground cover: Due to its spreading habit, the wood spurge can be used as a ground cover, helping to suppress weeds and provide a low-maintenance landscape option.
  • Propagation: It can be propagated by seed or division in spring or autumn.
  • Wildlife: It is not particularly attractive to deer and rabbits. It is a good choice for gardens where these animals may be a problem.

Common Cultivars of Euphorbia amygdaloides

Cultivar NameDescription
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Robbiae’Also known as Mrs. Robb’s Hatbox, this cultivar is often confused with Euphorbia x martini. It is a fast-growing evergreen shrub with a brilliant yellow/green bloom in spring.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’A compact, shade-loving euphorbia with acid-yellow blooms and purple foliage.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Redwing’A cultivar with dark red stems and foliage that is more compact and less invasive than the species.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Variegata’A popular cultivar with green leaves edged in creamy white.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Waleutiny’Also known as ‘Tiny Tim,’ this cultivar forms a perfect 1-foot dome of narrow blue-green leaves and a cloud of greenish-yellow bracts cupped under little red flowers.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Incurva’A dwarf cultivar with dark green foliage and yellow-green flowers.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Bonfire’A bushy cultivar with dark red stems and foliage that turns deep purple in the fall.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Golden Glory’This cultivar has bright yellow-green foliage and yellow flowers.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘White Swan’Feature variegated foliage and white flowers.
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Nothowlee’A dwarf cultivar with dark green foliage and yellow flowers.

Other Cultivars

Purpurea’Features purple-tinged foliage, adding color contrast
‘Rubra’Feature reddish-bronze foliage
‘Variegata’Variegated foliage with creamy-white edges
‘Redwing’Reddish-purple foliage with green markings
‘Blackbird’Dark, almost black foliage
‘Ruby Glow’Deep red foliage with green accents
‘Efanthia’Compact form with pink-tinged foliage
‘Fen’s Ruby’Vibrant red foliage, particularly in spring
‘Purpurea Major’Large, deep purple leaves
‘Ascot Rainbow’Variegated leaves with pink, cream, and green hues

Common Problems That Can Affect Euphorbia amygdaloides

  • Overwatering: This plant is like a cactus at heart, so it doesn’t appreciate being waterlogged. Too much water can lead to root rot, which can be fatal. Make sure the soil is well-draining and water only when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
  • Pests: Euphorbia amygdaloides can be a tasty treat for some pests, such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Keep an eye out for these little critters and treat them with insecticidal soaps or oils if you spot them.
  • Diseases: Fungal diseases like powdery mildew and rust can be a problem for Euphorbia amygdaloides. To prevent these issues, ensure good air circulation around the plant and avoid overhead watering. If problems do occur, treat with appropriate fungicides and improve growing conditions to prevent recurrence.
  • Sunburn: Although Euphorbia amygdaloides likes a bit of sun, too much direct sunlight can cause sunburn. If you see the leaves turning yellow or brown, it might be time to move your plant to a spot with a little more shade.
  • Cold damage: In colder climates, Euphorbia amygdaloides can be susceptible to cold damage. If you live in a chilly area, consider planting it in a sheltered spot or providing some winter protection to keep it cozy.

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