Euphorbia rigida (Upright Myrtle Spurge)

Scientific Name

Euphorbia rigida M.Bieb.

Common Names

Upright Myrtle Spurge, Gopher Spurge, Silver Spurge


Euphorbia biglandulosa, Euphorbia phlomos, Euphorbia pungens, Euphorbia suffruticosa, Galarhoeus rigidus, Tithymalus biglandulosus, Tithymalus rigidus

Scientific Classification

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia


Euphorbia rigida is a small shrub with attractive steel blue-green leaves arranged in tight spirals around the thick upright stems. It grows up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall and up to 3 feet (90 cm) wide. Leaves are lance-shaped, up 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long, and can take on these red hues in late fall. Flowers are small, green with showy chartreuse-yellow bracts that age to a reddish tan color as the flowering stems die back. They appear in late winter and spring in domed clusters at branch tips.


USDA hardiness zone 7a to 10a: from 0 °F (−17.8 °C) to 35 °F (+1.7 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Euphorbias are very easy to care for. They require a little pampering to become established, but once they are, they are self-sufficient. In fact, more die from too much care and watering than from neglect.

Euphorbias need well-draining soil and lots of sunlight. They are not particular about soil pH, but they cannot tolerate wet soil. Unlike most succulents, Euphorbia does not handle long periods of drought well. It may need weekly watering during the summer. Water whenever the soil is dry several inches below the surface. Water deeply, but don't let them sit in wet soil, which can cause root rot. Add some organic matter or fertilizer to the planting hole. If you are growing them in containers or your soil is poor, feed with a half-strength fertilizer monthly.

Euphorbia can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate (or even find). It is usually propagated by cuttings. This can be tricky because of the exuding sap. Rooting hormone is recommended with Euphorbias. See more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.


Native to the Mediterranean Basin and the Middle East.


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Hidden Dangers, and Benefits

Like its other Euphorbia cousins, E. rigida is toxic if eaten, so keep curious pets and toddlers away from this one. If the plant is cut or broken, it leaks a milky sap that can cause skin irritation.

Bees flock to the springtime flowers of this evergreen beauty, which is in the family Euphorbiaceae.

Scientists have also begun research using various types of Euphorbia as a biofuel. I, for one, would love to be able to thank fields and fields of this pretty plant and its relatives for supplying electricity to my home.

Spurge, Your Secret Weapon: 6 Best Varieties to Plant in the Garden

We think of the spring greens of spurge as heralds of a new season, but there are many evergreen varieties that have been keeping the show on the road all winter as well. While not all spurges are reliably hardy, they are reliably self-seeding, so a victim of frost is replaced by a selection of progeny. You just need to recognize when self-seeded plants have chosen a better spot than you might have.

Spurge’s horticultural name Euphorbia is easy to remember, sounding like “euphoric” (an emotion you will feel when it fills the garden in early spring).

Here are six of our favorite varieties of spurge.

Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer, for Gardenista.

Myrtle Spurge Care

Don’t let myrtle spurge get out of control in your garden. Source: FarOutFlora

Light & Temperature

This plant thrives to the fullest when planted under full sun. It can grow in USDA hardiness zones from 5 to 9.

Water & Humidity

This succulent plant is drought tolerant. It needs minimal watering. Make sure that you don’t over-water your myrsinites as it will kill your plant. Water only when the soil is dry to several inches.

Your plant will easily grow in dry and hot areas that have poor soil. In fact, it prefers to grow in well-draining sandy or gravelly soil and is very tolerant of dry soil.


This plant is technically an invasive plant species and rarely needs fertilizers to thrive.


Repot your plant when it starts growing out of its existing container, nothing too special about the process.


Since donkey tail spurge is an invasive plant species, it rapidly self-propagates via spreading its seeds. However, you can also propagate it via cuttings that will root easily in late spring and early summer during the growing season.


Euphorbia myrsinites pruning becomes a necessity if you want to counter their invasive nature. After blooming, in the spring and summer seasons, you can trim back your plant’s stems severely.

This will prevent your plant from rapidly spreading and allow it to flower consistently. When a blooming stem of your myrsinites euphorbia starts to turn yellow, simply clip it off at the base with clean pruning shears.

Watch the video: Toxic plants to avoid in the Boise Foothills

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