Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wood Spurge - Euphorbia commutata

Wood spurge (Euphorbia commutata) is a member of the Euphorbia family and quite rare in Florida.  It is reported from only two counties in the Florida panhandle in rich calcareous woods, and from 2 counties in northern west-central Florida in and around the Brooksville Ridge.  Because of its limited distribution, it is classified as a state endangered species. 
Woodland spurge is a beautiful bright lime green and sprawls in multiple directions from the main stem.  Eventually, individual plants may stand nearly 1 foot tall and more than that across.  Flowering occurs in the early spring.  The individual male and female flowers are surrounded by a round bract.  Eventually, the female flowers produce a three-chambered capsule with tiny seeds.
Wood spurge has never been offered commercially to the home gardener and is not likely to.  It obviously has some ability to thrive across much of the northern third of the state, but also seems to require alkaline soils and rich deciduous woodlands.  Although these conditions could be duplicated in home landscapes - especially near home foundations on the north side, this plant's lack of showy blooms would relegate it to use by the true connoiseurs of the unique. 
This is yet another one of Florida's interesting flora that we should admire in the wild and take pride in its preservation.

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