Euphorbia characias 'Bruce's Dwarf' (Bruce's Dwarf Mediterranean Spurge) - A relatively short lived evergreen shrubby perennial to 18 to 30 inches tall by as wide with long semi-upright stems rising from the plant base holding spirally arranged gray-green 3 to 5 inch long narrow leaves. The gray-green foliage is attractive year-round and in spring and summer the large clusters of chartreuse cup-shaped flower bract blooms held above the foliage at the stem tips are amazingly showy.
Plant in full sun to light shade in a dry moderately well drained soil and water sparingly to occasionally - this is a drought tolerant plant in coastal California. In garden conditions it does an excellent job of seeding itself out, so look forward (or beware) that this plant is likely to spread about. Seedlings are easy to pull so one can leave where they like and remove where they don't.
Plant in full to part day sun in a moderately well-drained soil and irrigate occasionally to infrequently - this is a drought tolerant plant in coastal California gardens. It is hardy to around 14 °F and tolerant of seaside conditions and saline soils. Cutting spent flowering stems back at the base of the plant freshens the plant up and prolongs its lifespan, which is generally from 3 to 5 years, but avoid contacting the sticky white latex that bleeds freely from cut stems as it can be irritating to some (definitely don't want to get it in the eyes or eat it) and is also hard to wash off skin and clothes. This is a very attractive and pest free plant for mediterranean climate gardens.
The species, Euphorbia characias is native to Southern Europe, Turkey. The name for the genus is derived from Euphorbus, the Greek physician of King Juba II of Numidia and later of Mauritania. In 12 B.C. King Juba named a cactus-like plant he found in the Atlas Mountains after his physician and later Carl Linnaeus assigned the name Euphorbia to the entire genus. The specific epithet was the Greek name used by Dioscorides for the plant, which was long used medically for the compounds it contains.
The cultivar 'Bruce's Dwarf' is the name we gave to a cultivated form given to us in the late 1980s by local Santa Barbara horticulturist and garden writer, Bruce Van Dyke (1922-2016), as seedlings from plants that were growing in his garden. It is fairly close to the type specimen of Euphorbia characias, which is a smaller and denser version of the familiar Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii and remains. It seems to be a similar variety called Euphorbia characias 'Dumpty' that is widely cultivated in England. We have grown this plant continuously since 1990 from seed we collect after getting it established in our own garden.
Information about Euphorbia characias 'Bruce's Dwarf' displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.