Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire'
Common Name: cushion spurge
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow with yellow to chartreuse bracts
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Air Pollution

Culture

Best grown in dry, well-drained soils in full sun. Appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates. However, clumps tend to open up and lose their attractive cushion shape in too much shade. Quite tolerant of poor soils, including rocky, sandy ones. Freely self-seeds. Promptly remove spent flowers (shearing plants to shape is one option) to prevent any unwanted self-seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Euphorbia polychroma, commonoly called cushion spurge, is a mounding, clump-forming perennial which typically grows in a dome (or cushion) shape to 12-18" tall and as wide on erect, sturdy stems bearing oblong, downy, medium green leaves (to 2" long). Cymes of inconspicuous greenish flowers (lacking both sepals and petals) bloom at the stem ends in spring. Although the flower cymes are not showy, they are subtended by long-lasting, bright sulphur-yellow bracts which are exceptionally showy. Stems exude a toxic, milky sap when cut. Leaves turn red in fall.

Synonymous with Euphorbia epithymoides.

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

Specific epithet means of many colors.

'Bonfire' was bred by Mary Ann Faria of Limerock Plant Farm from an two unnamed Euphorbia polychrome plants. It was introduced by Blooms of Bressingham®. The leaves of ‘Bonfire’ emerge green in spring but the top growth quickly turns deep red, orange, and purple, with the color deepening to burgundy red in mid summer. The leaves turn a rich red in fall. Its flowers are insignificant but surrounded by colorful yellow to chartreuse bracts. ‘Bonfire’ has a compact mounding habit growing 1 to 1.5 ft. tall and 1.5 to 2 ft. wide. U.S. Plant Patent #18,585 issued on March 11, 2008.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some gardeners experience skin rashes from contact with the milky sap of this plant.

Garden Uses

Borders.