1291 Euphorbia gramineaCommon Names: grassleaf spurge,cushion spurge Family: Euphorbiaceae (spurge Family)
Grassleaf spurge is a low growing evergreen perennial with branched, cylindrical, stems that can occasionally sprawl up to 5 ft (1.5 m). The plant grows in a billowy mound that might get a couple feet (60 cm) tall. The grayish green leaves are linear-oblong 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) in length, and mostly alternate, but becoming opposite toward the ends of the stems. The cyathia (see Features, below) are held on the tips of dichotomously branching upper stems. The distinctive three-lobed capsules are about a tenth of an inch (3.5 mm) in diameter.
‘Inneuphdia’ is a fast growing cultivar of German origin, usually sold under the trade name Diamond Frost®. It is prized for the abundant and long lasting large white bracts of its cyathia. In fact, Diamond Frost® never stops blooming. This is the most common variety of grassleaf spurge in commerce today. ‘Glitz’ is a new seed race that was developed for florists to use in arrangements. ‘Glamour’ is another variety that is propagated from seed. This one grows in a low mound and is well suited for outdoor borders and mixed hedges.
Euphorbia gramineais native to the New World tropics from southern Mexico to northern South America. It has been introduced and apparently become established in Peninsular Florida, Texas, California, Hawaii and the West Indies where it grows in disturbed, weedy areas, often in urban environments. Reports suggest that grassleaf spurge will likely become a bothersome weed in the southern US in the near future.
Light: Grow grassleaf spurge in full sun for the best flowering. It tolerates part shade but won’t bloom as profusely. Moisture: Quite tolerant of dry conditions once established, grassleaf spurge does best when it gets moderate watering. It will not survive in poorly drained soils. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 12. Grassleaf spurge is tolerant of heat and can be grown as a perennial in zones 10-12. It probably is root hardy, dying back in winter and returning in spring, in zone 9. Grassleaf spurge is grown as an annual or in containers further north. Best growth occurs when temperatures stay above 62° F (17° C). Propagation: Seeds are expelled explosively from the fruit capsule when they are fully ripe, so wrap the capsules in paper or cloth if you want to harvest seeds. Sow seeds in soil 65-70° F (18-21° C) for germination in about a week. Grassleaf spurge is easy to start from stem cuttings in soil or water. The patented cultivar, Diamond Frost® does not produce viable seed and must be propagated (for personal use only!) vegetatively.
Grassleaf spurge may look like a delicate little snowflake, but it is one tough cookie, able to withstand extreme heat, humidity, drought and even some trampling. This is a relative newcomer on the garden scene but one that surely will become very popular. Usually grown as an annual, grassleaf spurge is used in mass plantings, in borders and in front of low hedges. It makes a nice edging along a path or sidewalk. Grassleaf spurge has flowers that last from spring well into autumn. In summer set out grassleaf spurge in beds and borders, and let its billowing soft texture fill in the gaps left by less tolerant flowers. When frosty weather threatens, dig it up for an indoor container planting.
In a hanging basket, grassleaf spurge, with its showy white bracts cascading over the sides has few peers. Use grassleaf spurge in mixed containers as you would baby’s breath (Gypsophila). Try grassleaf spurge as a houseplant if you can put it where it gets lots of bright light.
Cut flowers are long lasting in water. Seal the cut ends with a flame to reduce loss of sap.
With more than 2000 species, the genus Euphorbia is a ubiquitous, diverse and widespread collection of annual, biennial and perennial herbs, shrubs and trees. There are euphorbs on all continents save Antarctica, and in habitats ranging from hot, arid deserts to cool, temperate wetlands. Some are thorny succulents; others smooth-skinned pretties at home in the flower garden. The characteristic inflorescence, common to all euphorbs, is called a cyathium (pleural cyathia). It resembles a single flower, but is actually a cup shaped conglomeration of fused bracts enclosing many very small male flowers and a single female flower. All euphorbs produce a distinctive three lobed fruiting capsule that literally explodes when ripe. All have a poisonous milky white sap.
The milky white latex of this and other euphorbs is toxic if ingested and a skin irritant that causes a photosensitive reaction which includes inflammation and itching. It can be especially bad in the eyes or open cuts. The sap is poisonous even when dry.
Steve Christman 7/24/17