Mediterranean Spurge - Euphorbia characias


Euphorbia characias is an erect, sparsely-branched medium-sized sub-shrub up to 120 cm tall with oblong, glaucous grey-green leaves and large, rounded heads of greenish-yellow flowers. There are two main subspecies escaping and naturalising in Britain .In subsp. veneta the glands (the crescent-shaped cyathia) are green at first, turning yellow, then, orangey and the horns are long. [In subsp. characias they are dark beetroot red and the horns are short].

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

A very tall plant when full-grown; stems hairy; capsules densely hairy.  Glands on the cyathium (the cup shaped structure that bears the male and female flowers) are concave on the outer edge, with two points

Recording advice

A photo of the plant in its habitat; details of flowers, leaves and stems


Usually found as a casual garden escape on open or disturbed ground close to habitation.

When to see it

Flowers March to June.

Life History


UK Status

Widespread but infrequent casual garden escape in England and Wales.

VC55 Status

Uncommon garden escape in Leicestershire and Rutland. It was not recorded in the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire.

It is not listed in the current checklist (Jeeves, 2011) 

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map