|Manihot esculenta 'Variegata' - an ornamental cassava - my yard but sadly it died!|
|Ricinus growing wild in the Wash near Palm Springs|
But just looking at the Euphorbias, we have both hardy and tender plants, shrubby plants, herbaceous perennials and succulents. The common name is spurge, which is said to date from the Middle Ages when the sap was used as a purgative. This sounds rather dubious as the sap is in fact highly irritant, causing painful skin disorders and even blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes. There are stories of propagators in nurseries who have been taking cuttings and popped out for a quick visit to the boys room, only to become extremely uncomfortable somewhat later! The moral of the story is to always handle euphorbias with great care, using gloves and to wash any splashes of the white sap off your skin immediately. Out here in Palm Springs, there are a number of species that are common landscape plants. Some of them are very succulent and can be easily confused with cacti.
|Euphorbia tirucallii 'Sticks of Fire' and E. polygona 'Snowflake' plus an agave|
|Euphorbia - not sure of the species - typical local landscape plant|
One distinctly different species that I have just planted in our yard here is Euphorbia cotinidifolia which most people at a glance would easily confuse with the hardy shrub Cotinus, commonly known as the smoke bush. In fact the name acknowledges the similarity between the two plants. Sadly its tender and inclined to be temperamental.
|Euphorbia ingens - South Africa|
Back home in the UK, hardy Euphorbias are valuable garden plants mostly for their yellowish bracts and some for their foliage. Some of the new variegated types have quite striking foliage. One of my own favourites is E. mellifera, an understated plant but with sweet honey scented flowers.
(Aside - when Philip first saw the plant below he commented 'That will be nice when it flowers!' Of course most Euphorbias have colourful bracts which mask the insignificant flowers. Philip - that's it! )
|Euphorbia chracias subsp wulfenii - possibly 'Lambrook Gold'|
|Euphorbia mellifera and a variegated hybrid - forgotten its name!|
|Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' - a new hybrid|
|Euphorbia - showing fasciation - not pretty but curious!|