Euphorbia (Spurge)

Euphorbia, commonly known as Spurge, is a huge genus of more than 2000 species in the family Euphorbiaceae, native to all continents except Antarctica.
The genus is very diverse and includes species with very different characteristics. It contains annual and perennial herbs, as well as shrubs and trees species that can reach 20 meters in height, many of which are succulents and very drought tolerant. Spurges are popular for their unique floral structures – handsome, richly colored leaves and unusual flowers aggregated into an inflorescence or cluster of flowers known as a “cyathium”.

Name meaning

The genus name was given in honor of Euphorbus, the Greek physician to King Juba II of Numidia, later King of Mauretania (now part of northwestern Morocco) who used the latex of Euphorbia species for medicinal purposes.

Euphorbia symbolism

Euphorbia represents purity, protection and wisdom.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), which is often seen at Christmas time, symbolizes cheerfulness, family reunion, happiness and good luck.

You may also want to check out our article on how Poinsettias are associated with Christmas.

Interesting facts about Euphorbia

Flower Structure

What most people think of as the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves) that surround a bunch of small flowers.
The real flowers are actually tiny seed heads at the ends of the stem.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Euphorbia pulcherrima, widely known as Poinsettia, is one of the most popular indoor Christmas plant.
The plant was named after the United States ambassador to Mexico Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), who brought a flower from Mexico to the USA. Today, more than 35 million Poinsettias are sold annually in the United States, making them the best-selling potted plant in the USA.
Poinsettia grows as srub or small tree. It has dark green leaves and yellow flowers surrounded with large, colorful bracts which look like petals. This plant is not poisonous, but you should still keep your pets away from it!

Is Euphorbia Poisonous?

Many Euphorbias contain milky substance, a milky sap called latex that is conspicuous and poisonous. It may cause irritation to skin and eyes and severe discomfort if ingested.
From the plant itself, this sap is very useful because of antifungal and antibacterial activity, which keeps them from getting infected easily in cases of injury.

Euphorbia Plant Data