Shore spurge, sea spurge, waiu-atua, sand milkweed
Vascular – Native
Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
2n = 20
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: CD
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Declining | Qualifiers: CD
2004 | Serious Decline
Endemic to New Zealand and the Chatham Islands.
Coastal cliffs, banks and talus slopes, sand dunes and rocky lake shore scarps.
Perennial herb with multiple erect stems up to 1 m tall and underground rhizomes. Stems reddish; leaves alternate, blue-green. Flowers in terminal bunches, each flower surrounded by a deep red cup-like structure with purple glands. Sap a burning milky juice. Flowers are produced from October to February and fruit occur from December to May.
The milky sap distinguishes it from many other coastal herbs. The large cigar-shaped leaves and red cups around the flower-like inflorescences (‘cyanthia’) distinguish this species from other Euphorbia species.
September to March (sporadic flowering throughout the year can occur)
December to July
Pappate cypselae are dispersed by wind and water (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easy from fresh seed, cuttings and the division of whole plants.
Domestic and feral 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. Coastal development (e.g., road widening) and erosion are further common threats to most populations. Population fragmentation makes the remnants vulnerable to sudden decline. Some populations on the West Coast of the South Island appear to have succumbed to a fungal disease.
euphorbia: After Euphorbus, a Greek physician who served King Juba of Numidia in 12BC. Juba named a cactus to honour Euphorbus and later Linnaeus named the entire genus after the physician.
glauca: Bloom has thin powder
Fact sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange for NZPCN (1 June 2013)
References and further reading
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Euphorbia glauca Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/euphorbia-glauca/ (Date website was queried)