PLANT OF THE WEEK #71: Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia hereby becomes the most heavily represented genus in this list.

And really, what would we do without them?

The evergreen types all send up new, fresh young shoots from the base during flowering, so when they’re dead-headed, you reveal an entirely fresh, wholly replaced new plant.  If only more plants took up this lifestyle!

Euphorbia myrsinites just starting to flower

Long before I discovered Euphorbia rigida (and long before I loved it, which was some time later), I knew, admired and loved Euphorbia myrsinites.  I loved its snaking, prostrate stems with rigid, emphatically patterned blue-grey foliage.  I loved its early spring flowering, and the lime-green flowers in contrast with the blue leaves.  I loved that its winding and rather sparse form that never exceeds about 10cm in heights allows for other stuff to puncture through it, like, say grape hyacinths, with which its flowering coincides perfectly.

Euphorbia myrsinites in a client’s quarry garden

The only thing I struggled with is where to place it, being way too low for, say, the front of a perennial border.  It was clearly built for rock-garden life, but I didn’t have, nor want, a rock garden.  That was all before I discovered the joys of my current steppe, where mostly low plants cover a large area of gravel, repeating about as if self-sown.  It’s the aesthetic home turf of Euphorbia myrsinites.

The foliage of Tritelia laxa puncturing through a carpet of Euphorbia myrsinites

Unfortunately, it’s not all that happy in my garden.  That’s curious, as Euphorbia rigida, which looks like its rather better-fed identical twin, loves my quite heavy subsoil.  E. myrsinites apparently doesn’t.  Then in a client’s garden, on the perfectly drained faces of an old quarry, Euphorbia myrsinites is as happy as a pig in mud, while E. rigida languishes.  It’s probably just as well that they both don’t work equally, as E. rigida’s screaming sulphur flowers rather upstage E. myrsinites’ lime green.  I’ve heard tell of hybrids, but have never seen anything convincingly intermediate.

In my client’s garden, E. myrsinites provides a magical background for species tulips.  Come to think of it, E. myrinites should really be celebrated as one of very, very plants indeed that are themselves wonderfully curious and interesting, but remain perfect team players.

Euphorbia rigida was the subject of an earlier Plant of the Week. Read more about it here


  1. I love it too and, like you, had difficulty with it in my heavy clay. But last year we built a retaining wall with a long, raised bed that we filled with loam and compost. And this wonderful plant is outdoing itself here! I’m so happy I’m able to grow it. And I’m thinking of your idea of having Grape Hyacinths popping through for next spring.

    1. Might try some on the top of some walls here, Lyn, and see if it’s the same with me

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