Perry's Perennial Pages

Euphorbia polychroma (formerly epithymoides)

    Perennial of the Month-- March 2003 

(u for' bee-aah pol-ee-chro' mah)  (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Cushion Spurge

Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge

Height x width: 12-18" x 18-36"

Growth rate, habit: slow to moderate, mounded, opening up with southern heat and plant age

Foliage: medium green, to 2" long, oblong, alternate

Flowers: inconspicuous (1/4inch wide) as with many members of this family, showy parts are 3-4 inch wide cluster of yellow bracts subtending the flowers in early spring (early May in zone 4), which cover the plant and provide quite a show, red fruit produced in late summer, which pop off plant and are projected several feet and under ideal conditions may self sow

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-7

Soil: moist, tolerates some poor and dry (but may wilt), may rot in wet or heavy clay soils

Light: sun in north, shade in south

Pests and Problems: mites possible, otherwise none serious; may have winter injury from heavy snow in north

Landscape habit, uses: fronts to middles of borders, masses, large rock gardens; combine with daffodils, other smaller bulbs in front; smaller perennials in front for bloom in rest of season, and behind

Other interest: native to central and SE Europe, a large genus with many less hardy species, related to poinsettia; winner of RHS award of merit, as did cultivar 'Major'--the latter perhaps a bit higher and with slightly larger flowers, but may be less hardy; name epithymoides given by Linnaeus in 1770, then named polychorma by the Austrian Anton Kerner in 1875, and now the original name is once again considered as the correct one but often either is used; this species was chosen as it is a great and solid performer through many areas for early spring color

Other culture: avoid under overhangs in north where winter snow and ice may damage; long lived in north, short lived in south where gets leggy from heat and should be repropagated after several years

Propagation: seeds, division after several years with adequate roots on each section, terminal cuttings after flowering

Sources: many complete perennial nurseries and garden centers, local and online

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