Plant Guide


Euphorbia epithymoides

cushion spurge

Clump-forming perennial plant, flowering with bright acid-yellow 'flower' heads, 5-8 cm wide, in late spring. Botanically speaking, the parts resembling flower petals are modified leaves, and the actual flowers are very tiny. Simple, elliptical to linear leaves, 4-6 cm long. Foliage tends to colour up during autumn in shades of red, purple and orange. The common name refers to the plant's cushion-like growth habit. All parts are toxic. Sap may irritate skin and eyes.

Synonym: Euphorbia polychroma.

Grows well in full sun, but in hot areas a partially shaded position with morning sun only is best. Too much shade will result in a leggy, open shape. Any well-draining soil. Not tolerant of waterlogged soil and reasonably tolerant of dry soils. Self-seeds. Can become weedy, but is easy to control by cutting the stems back to about one-third after flowering. This will also keep the plant compact. Wear gloves when pruning to prevent skin contact with the milky sap that seeps from the cut stems. Frost hardy. Evergreen in areas with mild winters, but cut back to near ground level to maintain a well-shaped plant.

You can create gorgeous colour combinations by planting Euphorbia epithymoides together with blue or purple varieties of Ajuga reptans, Acquilegia, GeraniumIris, Lobelia, or with purple leafed Heuchera or Loropetalum chinense 'Burgundy'. The colour is particularly attractive in the shade, and if you wish to make the most of the beautiful bright colour on a well-shaped, compact plant, then select a partially shaded position. Can be used as a ground cover, but does not spread, so make sure you plant enough plants to produce a good cover.

Type of plant

Herbaceous - Perennial


0.5 x 0.5 m

Landscape Use

flower display in the foreground of borders


  • Temperature: Hardy
  • Light: Medium High
  • Moisture: Medium
  • Soil: Light Medium Heavy
  • Wind tolerance: Average