(Named for Euphorbus, physician to the King of Mauritania)
This is an interesting genus of plants, which give off a milky juice when any part is bruised or broken. The upper leaves are in many cases showy, while the flowers are inconspicuous. It is to this group of plants that the popular Christmas Poinsettia belongs.
SPECIES. Painted Spurge (Mexican Fireplant), (Paintedleaf), (Annual Poinsettia) or (Fire-on-the-mountain). Euphorbia heterophylla. This plant has deep green foliage until the middle of Summer, when the top leaves turn scarlet either all over or merely at the base. When the plants are growing well, they become much branched and exceedingly handsome. They attain a height of 2 or 3 feet.
Variegated Spurge. (Snow-on-the-mountain), (Ghostweed) E. marginata (variegata). This species is wild in the United States from the Dakotas to Texas and eastward. The leaves are oval, the upper ones being margined with white. The flowers are less showy than the leaves. The plants grow 2 to 3 feet high.
Where to Plant. Both the Mexican Fireplant and Snow-on-the-mountain are useful in a border of annuals. Their oddly colored leaves are sure to attract attention. The latter mentioned sort branches at the height of about 1Y2 feet, so that when it should be most showy, it is often bare at the base. However, any other annual growing about 2 feet tall may be planted in front in order to hide the bare stems. We might suggest for this French Marigolds.
GENERAL. Both species prefer heat and full sunshine, but they will grow in rather poor soil. Sow the seeds of the Mexican Fireplant when danger from frost is passed. It is best to sow 3 or 4 seeds in a place, and when the seedlings appear, to pull up all but one, as the plants need a space of 18 inches to develop in. The Snow-on-the mountain is perfectly hardy, and the seeds may be sown very early in Spring. In some localities it behaves as a perennial and sprouts up each Spring. It also self-sows readily.