T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Shore spurge (Euphorbia glauca)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Euphorbiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Euphorbia
Species: E. glauca
Binomial name: Euphorbia glauca
Common name: Shore spurge, waiu-tua, waiū-o-Kahukura,  Sand milkweed, Maori spurge.

Euphorbia glauca is a coastal plant endemic to New Zealand whose colour varies from pastel green to vivid blue-grey foliage. It is a coastal plant of ecological importance with a wide creeping habit. It can be found on coastal cliffs, banks and talus slopes, sand dunes and rocky lake shore scarps. It is a perennial herb with multiple erect stems up to 1 m tall and it has underground rhizomes. Stems reddish; leaves alternate, blue-green. 
The flowers are in terminal bunches and each flower is surrounded by a deep red cup-like structure with purple glands. This plant has a burning milky sap. Flowers are produced from October to February and fruit occur from December to May.
The species is now in serious decline due to coastal development and weed competition, cattle, sheep, pigs and possums are the major threats throughout this species range, mainly through browse and trampling. Competition from taller vegetation is significant at many sites.  Population fragmentation makes the remnants vulnerable to sudden decline.

This plant is listed in the New Zealand Threat Classification System as in serious decline although the population of the species experiences extreme fluctuations.

Photographed at Te Kainga Marire Gardens at Spencer Place and at East end reserve



Flowering December

Euphorbia glauca bracts are brightly coloured and serve the function of attracting pollinators, either together with the perianth or instead of it. Each flower is surrounded by a deep red cup-like structure with purple glands

This photo shows the seed pods forming. Photographed early December.

The reddish stems contain a sap that is a burning milky juice.