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Euphorbia mellifera

Honey Spurge

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Euphorbia mellifera

Honey Spurge
€3.18

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Packet Size:10 Seeds
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Euphorbia mellifera is an evergreen shrub is grown as much for its foliage as its deliciously scented flowers. A magnificent euphorbia that really makes a dramatic statement in the garden, it has stiff stems strung with whorls of bright green leaves with a white stripe down the centre and topped in spring, with small, honey-scented, bronze-tinted flowers.

This Euphorbia's blooms give off a sweet honey perfume - hence the plants' common name 'Honey Spurge'. It is a stunning evergreen shrub, with distinctive narrow leaves and unusual summer blooms.
Ideal for adding colour and architectural shape to mixed borders, it forms a natural dome shape, and gives structure and an architectural quality to the garden. Or try it as part of an exotic scheme; the luminous-green leaves look great with large-leafed plants.

Euphorbia mellifera was awarded the RHS Award of Garden merit in 2002.



Sowing: Sow in late spring to early summer.
Soak the seeds for two hours in warm water before sowing. Euphorbia plants do not like root disturbance, so it is best to sow the seeds in place of growth or to use deep plugs or pots. Grow at 20 to 26°C (68 to 78°F) . Be patient, germination is generally very slow, it may occur in two to three weeks at but sometimes can take a few months.


Sowing Direct:
Sow directly where they are to grow, once temperatures have risen and the soil has warmed. Sow on the surface of the soil and keep damp but not wet.


Sowing Indoors:
Surface sow the seeds into plugs or small pots using a good seed sowing mix or well drained soil and cover seed with vermiculite, do not exclude light.
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into larger pots to grow on. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out. Plant 30cm (12in) apart in sun and ordinary well drained soil.


Cultivation:
Euphorbia need full sun to partial shade, with a well-drained soil mix. The plants should be well watered and be allowed to dry before watering again. The plants are native to poor soils and do not need fertiliser or excessive water. Too much of either will provide lush growth but at the expense of flowers.
Hardy in sheltered areas but needs protection from cold winds. Cut back to the ground before winter frosts


Cut Flowers:
To produce longer lasting cut flowers, sear the cut ends over a flame or dip them in boiling water.


Plant Uses:
Borders and Beds. Cut Flowers.


Caution:
As with all members of the Euphorbiaceae, plants and seed are toxic if eaten.
When working with spurges, plants should be handled with care, especially when sap is showing. Always wear gloves since the milky sap is poisonous and a potential skin irritant. The latex is corrosive to the skin and can cause burns or dermatitis.


Origin:
Euphorbias appear as natives across the world. They are one of the most interesting and diverse genus, featuring an incredible 2,000 plus widely varying species, including many good garden plants.
The plant belongs to the same family as the Poinsettia, Euphorbia Pulcherrima.
Euphorbia mellifera is native to the islands off the Moroccan coast, including the Canary Islands and the Macaronesia.


Nomenclature:
The genus was named after Euphorbes, the personal physician to the Numidian king Juba II, who is said to have discovered the toxic and curative potential of the white and milky sap in the plant.
The word Euphorbus derives from the Greek eu meaning ‘good’ and phorbe meaning ‘pasture or fodder’ thus giving euphorbos the meaning ‘well fed.’
The species name mellifera means honey-bearing. It is taken from the Greek words meli meaning ‘honey’, and fera meaning ‘bearing something’
Euphorbia mellifera is commonly known as Honey Spurge or Canary Spurge. The name ‘Spurge’ derives from the old French espurgier meaning 'to purge', as the sap of herbaceous euphorbias used to be used as a purgative, a laxative.

The name Euphorbia is named for Euphorbus, the Greek physician of Juba II, the King of Mauretania.
Juba was educated in Rome and married the daughter of Antony and Cleopatra.
He was apparently interested in botany and had written about an African cactus-like plant he had found or which he knew about from the slopes of Mt. Atlas which was used as a powerful laxative. That plant may have been Euphorbia resinifera, and like all Euphorbias had a latexy exudate.
Euphorbus had a brother named Antonius Musa who was the physician to Augustus Caesar in Rome. When Juba heard that Caesar had honoured his physician with a statue, he decided to honour his own physician by naming the plant he had written about after him.
The word Euphorbus derives from the Greek eu meaning ‘good’ and phorbe meaning ‘pasture or fodder’ thus giving euphorbos the meaning ‘well fed.’
Some sources suggest that Juba was amused by the play upon words and chose his physician's name for the plant because of its succulent nature and because of Euphorbus' corpulent physique.
One species of Euphorbia, E. regis-jubae, was named in honour of King Juba II.


Additional Information

Additional Information

Packet Size 10 Seeds
Seed Form Natural
Family Euphorbiaceae
Genus Euphorbia
Species mellifera
Synonym Tithymalus melliferus Moench
Common Name Honey Spurge
Hardiness Shrub
Flowers Honey-scented, bronze-tinted flowers.
Natural Flower Time late July to September.
Height 2m (6ft) if left unpruned
Spread 2m (6ft) if left unpruned
Position Full Sun to Partial Shade.
Time to Sow Sow in early spring to early autumn.
Germination Be patient, germination is generally very slow

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