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Dwarf Spurge

Euphorbia exigua

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, rocky places, wasteland.

Yellow, no petals
Yellowish-green flowers. Many stamens.
A smooth, 3-valved capsule. About 2mm long.
An annual flower with short, greyish-green, linear leaves. The shiny leaves are toothless, stalkless and alternate along the stems. The stems are smooth and hairless.
Other Names:
Sand Spurge, Small Spurge.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Euphorbia exigua, also known as sand spurge, is a small, annual or perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. It typically grows in sandy or rocky habitats, and can reach a height of up to 30 cm. The plant has narrow, linear leaves and small, yellow-green flowers that bloom in the summer. It is considered as an invasive species in some areas, and it is toxic to animals and humans if ingested. It can cause skin irritation and eye problems if contact with sap. It is not commonly used as ornamental plant.


Dwarf Spurge, scientifically known as Euphorbia exigua, is a small and compact perennial herbaceous plant that is part of the Euphorbiaceae family. The plant is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, but can now be found in other parts of the world where it has been introduced as a garden plant or as a weed. This hardy and adaptable plant is known for its attractive foliage and delicate flowers.

Description and Habitat

Dwarf Spurge is a low-growing plant that typically reaches a height of 10-20cm. It has a slender and erect stem with numerous branches that spread out horizontally. The leaves are narrow and oblong, measuring about 1-2cm in length, and are arranged alternately along the stem. The leaves are blue-green in color and have a waxy texture that helps to conserve moisture.

The flowers of the Dwarf Spurge are small and inconspicuous, and are arranged in clusters called cyathia. The cyathia are surrounded by a ring of bright green bracts that resemble petals, and are what make this plant attractive to gardeners. The flowers appear in early summer and continue to bloom until the first frost.

Dwarf Spurge is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils. It can also tolerate a wide range of temperatures and can grow in both full sun and partial shade. This plant is often found in dry and rocky habitats, including meadows, rocky slopes, and woodland clearings.

Uses and Benefits

Dwarf Spurge has a number of traditional medicinal uses. The plant contains a milky sap that is toxic to some animals, but can be used to treat certain skin conditions in humans, including warts, eczema, and ringworm. The sap can also be used as a laxative and as a treatment for coughs and colds.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Dwarf Spurge is also an attractive garden plant that is easy to grow and care for. The plant is often used as a groundcover or as a border plant in rock gardens, and can be combined with other low-growing perennials to create an attractive and colorful display. The bright green bracts that surround the cyathia add a splash of color to the garden, and can be used as a cut flower in floral arrangements.


While Dwarf Spurge has a number of benefits, it is important to handle the plant with care. The milky sap that is found in the stems and leaves can be toxic to some animals and can cause skin irritation and other health problems in humans. If you are planning to handle the plant, it is important to wear gloves and to avoid touching your eyes or mouth after handling the plant.

Dwarf Spurge is a hardy and adaptable plant that has a number of uses and benefits. Whether you are looking for a low-maintenance garden plant or a traditional herbal remedy, Dwarf Spurge is a great choice. With its attractive foliage and delicate flowers, this plant is sure to add beauty and interest to your garden or landscape.


Dwarf Spurge is a relatively easy plant to propagate. The plant can be propagated from seed or by division. Seeds can be sown in early spring in a well-draining soil mix and placed in a warm, bright location. Once the seedlings have germinated, they can be transplanted to individual pots or to a garden bed. The plant can also be propagated by division in the early spring or fall. To propagate by division, carefully dig up the plant and separate the roots into smaller clumps. These clumps can then be replanted in a new location.


Dwarf Spurge is a low-maintenance plant that does not require a lot of care. The plant prefers well-draining soil and can be watered sparingly once the soil has dried out. It is important to avoid overwatering the plant, as this can lead to root rot. The plant can be pruned in the early spring to remove any dead or damaged stems, and to promote new growth. As mentioned earlier, it is important to handle the plant with care due to its toxic sap. If you do come into contact with the sap, it is important to wash the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible.

Invasive Species

While Dwarf Spurge is a popular garden plant, it is important to note that it can be invasive in some areas. The plant has the ability to self-seed and can quickly spread in areas where it is not native. If you are considering planting Dwarf Spurge in your garden, it is important to check with your local extension office or gardening center to determine if the plant is invasive in your area. If it is, it may be best to choose a different plant for your garden.

Dwarf Spurge is a hardy and adaptable plant that has a number of uses and benefits. With its attractive foliage and delicate flowers, this plant is a great addition to any garden or landscape. However, it is important to handle the plant with care due to its toxic sap, and to be aware of its potential to become invasive in some areas. With proper care and maintenance, Dwarf Spurge can provide years of beauty and enjoyment in your garden.

Ecological Importance

Dwarf Spurge is an important plant for many pollinators, including bees and butterflies. The small, inconspicuous flowers provide nectar and pollen for these insects, which in turn helps to support other plants in the ecosystem. The plant's ability to grow in a wide range of soil types and habitats also makes it an important plant for soil conservation and erosion control. The plant's deep roots help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion in areas where the soil is prone to erosion.

Cultural Significance

Dwarf Spurge has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and is still used today in many cultures. In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant is used to treat a variety of conditions, including respiratory disorders, digestive disorders, and skin conditions. In India, the plant is used as a purgative and to treat snakebites. The plant has also been used in European herbal medicine to treat skin conditions, and to promote healing of wounds and burns.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Dwarf Spurge has also been used in some cultures for its magical and spiritual properties. In European folklore, the plant was believed to have protective powers and was often planted near the door of homes to keep evil spirits away. The plant was also used in love spells and other magical rituals.

In conclusion, Dwarf Spurge is a fascinating plant with a rich history and a number of uses and benefits. Whether you are looking to add an attractive plant to your garden, or are interested in traditional medicine or folklore, Dwarf Spurge is a great choice. With its hardy nature, adaptability, and ecological importance, this plant is a valuable addition to any landscape or ecosystem.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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