Native plants

Shore spurge

Scientific name: Euphorbia glauca
Maori name: Waiu-atua
Other names: Sea spurge, sand milkweed, waiū-o-Kahukura

Pioneer Other plant - native to the Wellington Region
Suits: dry, partial shade, sunny, exposure, coastal and dune garden, small garden or balcony

About Shore spurge

Waiu-atua or shore spurge is the sole native representative of a very large genus that is found in many parts of the world. This -At Risk species is increasingly rare, but local plant of our coastal environment. Growing up to 60 cm to 1 metre with blueish green large cigar-shaped leaves leaves and red steam. When broken a sap a burning milky juice is released. The latter are usually referred to as milkweeds, because of the milky sap that all Euphorbia possess. The beautiful flowers appears in September to March (sporadic flowering throughout the year can occur) and is surrounded by a deep red cup-like structure with purple glands making it very distinctive and out standing. Partnered with its upright habit and distinctive leaf arrangement, E. glauca’s striking colour makes it also a grand garden plant and it is becoming increasingly available.

It is a coastal plant of ecological importance with a wide creeping habit and underground rizhomes. It can be found on coastal cliffs, banks, sand dunes and rocky lake shore scarps. The species is now in serious decline due to coastal development (e.g., road widening) and erosion are further common threats to most populations 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 as well.

Although easy to grow, it is the kind of plant that can be a little tricky to grow well. Long parts should be trimmed back periodically to prevent plant getting an overly leggy appearance. The second is that, although it grows on cliffs and sand dunes, it should not be allowed to dry out excessively within cultivation. This tends to result in sparse growth, and can lead to plants eventually fading. They will grow in part shade but prefer a spot that receives full sun for part of the day. They work well in containers and pots too.

Provides for lizards

  • Ground cover for retreat
  • Clump forming for camouflage and insects

Read more about gardening for lizards.

More detail