Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 3 Professionals
Common Name: spurge
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellow tinged with purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Air Pollution

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 5-8 where it is best grown in humus-rich, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Likes cool summer climates. Appreciates some part afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Generally intolerant of the hot and humid summers of the southeastern U.S. Must have sharply-drained soils. Tolerant of some poor soils, including rocky-sandy ones. Established plants have drought tolerance, but appreciate moderate but even moisture. Overwatering can be fatal. Will self-seed in the landscape.

‘Chameleon’ will not self-seed in the landscape.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Euphorbia dulcis, sometimes commonly called spurge, is a bushy, compact, rhizomatous perennial that typically grows in a mound to 9-20” tall and as wide on erect stems clad with oblong to inversely lance-shaped dark green to bronze-green leaves (to 3” long). Flower bracts are greenish yellow. This plant is native to most of Europe. Unique to plants in the genus Euphorbia, the tiny flowers of this plant are not flowers in the traditional sense (they lack sepals and petals). Each flower structure contains only a single pistil (female) grouped with several single stamens (male) in a structure known as a cyathium. The cyathium is cupped by showy greenish-yellow involucre bracts. Although the pistils and stamens are ornamentally insignificant, the flower structure appears from a distance to sport yellow flowers which on closer inspection are nothing more than the showy bracts.

Broken plant stems contain a toxic white milky sap which frequently acts as a significant irritant to skin, eyes and open cuts. All plant parts are poisonous if ingested.

Genus name probably honors Euphorbus, physician to the King of Mauretania.

Specific epithet means mild.

Common name of spurge comes from the Old French espurge meaning to purge in reference to an old time use of plant sap as a purgative.

‘Chameleon’ is a showy purple-leaved cultivar. Leaves emerge dusky purple in spring, mature to a rich burgundy-purple by summer, and finally turn a deeper purple with reddish tinges in autumn. Stems are also purple. Insignificant flowers with showy greenish-yellow bracts appear in mid spring to early summer, with the bracts turning purple by fall.

Problems

No known serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to nematodes, spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. Fungal and bacterial diseases may appear.

Garden Uses

Interesting perennial for use as specimen or in groups. Borders. Containers. Hanging baskets. Often grown as an annual or indoor plant. Wear gloves when working with this plant and avoid contact with its toxic sap. Beds and borders. Ground covers. Mixed borders. Cottage gardens.

‘Chameleon’ is grown for its attractive purple foliage which combines and contrasts well with other garden plants.