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A sub-shrubby evergreen plant 3 to 5 ft high and forming a dense thicket of erect unbranched stems of more herbaceous than woody character; increasing in size by new growths from below ground. Stems, leaves and flower-stalks covered with down. Stems 1⁄3 to 5⁄8 in. in thickness, round, the lower naked portion thickly marked with the scars of fallen leaves, the terminal portion so thickly set with leaves as to be hidden. Leaves linear, stalkless, not toothed, pointed, 11⁄2 to 5 in. long, 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. wide, blue-green. Inflorescence a terminal panicle as much as 8 to 12 in. high and 3 to 5 in. wide, but usually smaller. The most conspicuous feature of the panicle is provided by the pairs of bracts, which are united into an almost circular leaf-like structure; the final pairs in each subdivision are coloured bright greenish yellow and form a cup-shaped apparent involucre round each cyathium. Glands of the cyathium yellowish brown. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 482.
Native of Istria, Dalmatia and Greece; introduced some time previous to 1837, in which year it flowered in the Horticultural Society’s Garden at Chiswick. The inflorescence opens in spring and remains in good colour for two or three months. The plant is quite hardy and can be propagated by division in spring. As the centre of old plants is liable to become worn out and to decay, a periodical division is advisable. On an April day some years ago I saw this euphorbia giving a wonderful display on some hills bordering the fine mountain road between Cattaro (Kotor) and Cetinje. So abundant were the plants that in places they gave quite a yellowish tinge to the hillsides. It is certainly one of the most ornamental hardy species in the large genus to which it belongs. Like all the spurges the younger parts exude a milky sap when cut or broken.
E. characias L. – This closely related species is also in cultivation. It is easily distinguished from E. wulfenii by the conspicuous, purplish-brown glands of the cyathia. It has a much wider distribution in the Mediterranean than E. wulfenii (N. Africa and from Spain to Greece) and usually (both in the wild and in cultivation) makes a short-stemmed plant to about 3 ft high. The very robust plants sometimes seen in gardens are perhaps the result of chance crossing with E. wulfenii. Indeed, the distinction between the two species seems to have become blurred so far as the garden plants are concerned. Furthermore, the two species are so closely allied that it would not be surprising if they hybridised in the wild state where they come into contact, as they certainly do in Greece.
E. mellifera Ait. – A native of Madeira and the Canary Islands, with brown, honey-scented flowers, opening in May. It is too tender for all but the mildest gardens. In the Ludgvan Rectory garden, Penzance, it was 8 ft high and 10 ft through in 1930 and Thurston mentions it as being 15 ft high at Pendrea in the same part of Cornwall. It is allied to E. dendroides L., a native of the Mediterranean in dry, rocky places near the sea.
E. robbiae Turrill – This new species was described by the late Dr Turrill in the Botanical Magazine under t. 208 (1953). It is an evergreen plant with stems perennial through several seasons, growing to about 2 ft high and spreading rapidly by underground runners and of great value as ground-cover in rougher places. Introduced by Mrs Robb from Asia Minor between the wars or perhaps earlier. It is allied to E. amygdaloides L., a widespread species native to Britain, from which it differs in its glabrous leathery leaves and larger seeds and seed-capsules.
E. robbiae – It was mentioned that this species is closely allied to E. amygdaloides. It has in fact been given varietal status under it – var. robbiae (Turrill) Radcliffe-Smith.