Size and method of spreading:
Flowering spurge often matures to a 2 to 3-foot height and width. It spreads by forming clumps from underground stem structures (rhizomes) and by seeds being ejected from the fruit. Clump division is best accomplished in the spring or fall. Flowering spurge can be propagated easily by root cutting, seed, or division.
Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)
Flowering spurge is native to most of the Northeastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States. C-value: 4.
Attracts birds or pollinators:
A number of bee, wasp, fly, and butterfly species visit the flowers of this perennial, including the beautiful, endangered Karner blue butterfly species (Lycaeides melissa samuelis). The foliage is fed upon by aphids, flea beetles, and a euphorbia bug (Chariesterus antennator) known for its association with flowering spurge. The seeds of flowering spurge attract a number of bird species, especially bobwhite quail, greater prairie chicken, horned lark, mourning dove, and wild turkey. Small mammals also consume the seeds of flowering spurge.
The majority of flowering spurge leaves occur in an alternate arrangement along the stems, with the exception of the three or more whorled leaves at the base of the floral branches. They have prominent central veins in a featherlike (pinnate) structure. The leaves are bluish-green in color, much longer than wide with nearly parallel sides (oblong to linear-oblong), and toothless edges (entire margins). Each end of the leaves are rounded. They attach directly, or nearly so, to the stem (sessile to nearly sessile). Generally, flowering spurge has hairless (glabrous) leaves, but occasionally hair will be present on the lower sides of the leaves (pubescent).
Flowering spurge produces flowers that grow on individual, branched stalks that mature from the bottom towards the top (cymes). These panicles occur on the terminal ends of mature stems. A cuplike structure (cyanthium) contains small, unisex flowers surrounded by five white petallike reduced leaf structures (bracts) and five green nectar glands. The bracts may be faintly notched at the tips and are somewhat egg-shaped (ovate). Flowering spurge produces separate male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers on the same plant (monoecious). The pistillate flowers contain a single ovary with three pollen receptors (tripartite style). The staminate flowers are less conspicuous and contain multiple pollen-producing organs (stamen). At the base of the flower stalk branches, flowering spurge develops two small, light green, leaflike bracts.
The fruit develops from the pistillate flowers, where the tripartite style develops into three chamber capsules that are spherical in shape (globular). Each capsule contains a single seed, and when they have matured, the capsules split to eject those seeds.