Euphorbia characias 'Tasmanian Tiger'

Common Name: spurge 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Pale yellow and cream
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Air Pollution


Best grown in dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Must have sharply drained soils. Plants generally have good drought tolerance, but appreciate some moisture in dry summer periods. Wet soils in winter can be fatal. Site plants in protected locations in the St. Louis area where winter hardiness may be a problem (some nurseries claim this plant is only winter hardy to USDA Zone 7). Plants are considered to be evergreen in warm winter areas. Plants prefer a Mediterranean-type climate and may show some stress in hot and humid summers. Plants may be short-lived.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Euphorbia characias is an upright euphorbia that is native to Southern Europe, the Balkans and Turkey. It typically grows on erect, woody-based, green stems to 3-4' tall and to 3' wide. Narrow, linear to obovate, blue-green leaves (to 5" long) are spirally arranged along the stems. Each stem is topped in spring by a thick, bottlebrush-like inflorescense of greenish-yellow flowers. Individual flowers lack petals, but have showy, petal-like, greenish-yellow bracts (cyathium in the genus Euphorbia is defined as a cup-like involucre). Broken stems exude a white milky sap that is a skin irritant and poisonous.

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

‘Tasmanian Tiger’ has variegated foliage. It was reportedly discovered in 1993 as a chance hybrid growing in a garden in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Plant parents are Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii ‘Lambrook Gold’ (seed parent) and an unidentified cultivar of Euphorbia characias (pollen parent). It typically grows from a woody base on upright stems to 3’ tall, displaying compact rounded growth. Pale gray-green stems may be tinged with purple. Individual flowers lack petals, but have attractive petal-like pale yellow and cream bracts with green center blotches. U.S. Plant Patent PP15,715 was issued April 12, 2005.


No known serious insect or disease problems. Use gloves when working with this plant because of the toxic plant sap.


Interesting variegated perennial for use as specimen or in groups. Borders. Containers.