Flowering Spurge

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Euphorbia corollata
Euphorbiaceae

There are about 48 native euphorbias found in the continental US, and 27 or so alien.  Worldwide, there are almost 2000 Euphorbia species. Most of the native American species are not particularly showy, but this little charmer is exceptional.  The plant can grow as tall as three feet, with an open, airy habit.  It prefers the dry soils of open, sunny areas, and seemingly loves the bedrock terraces of the Potomac Gorge, growing right out of small pockets of sandy soil on the rocks.

The name “spurge” has the same Latin root as “purge”, for the reason you might expect: some species were once used medicinally for cleansing.  Of the bowels.

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Those white petals aren’t really petals, as I wrote last year.  They’re bracts: modified leaves that look like petals, often functioning to attract pollinators to the tiny flowers within.

Euphorbias are complicated and interesting.  As a matter of fact, there’s a website devoted to them.  If you’re interested in details about the unique floral characteristics, check out the explanation here. It’s fascinating.

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I’m not sure what’s so appealing about them.  As with cranefly orchid, I would love to have a kimono made with a fabric printed with a flowering spurge design.  They seem to have a Japanese aesthetic about them.  I can’t quite explain it.

Speaking of Japanese aesthetics, they’re a good subject for bokeh.

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