Euphorbia 'Blue Lagoon' attractive yet toxic plant
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Issue: August 11, 2007

Is zoysia grass really good?


I need help identifying a plant (digital photo sent). It was in our courtyard when we moved here three years ago. The previous owner called it a 'Blue Lagoon', but I can't find that name of plant listed anywhere. We took a piece to a nursery in Rio Rancho and they couldn't identify it. It is on the west-facing side of the house, stays green all year, seems to thrive in the cold weather, and develops yellow bracts in early spring.

Rosslyn P.
Rio Rancho


Answer:

The plant in the photo you sent to me is a member of the Euphorbia family (an ornamental spurge). I found it listed as Euphorbia hybrid 'Blue Lagoon'. It is an interesting ornamental, but you should know that it may have an undesirable characteristic. It produces white latex (a white liquid inside the stem and leaves, not sap). This latex may cause allergic reactions. If you get it into your eye, it may cause extreme pain and temporary blindness. Wear gloves and eye protection when handlingthis plant or working in the garden near it (or removing it). Otherwise, it is attractive and drought tolerant.

Rosslyn followed up with this response: "Thank you so much! It is attractive, but we know about Euphorbias. When we lived in San Diego, we had a big six-foot variety that my husband cut out, and he did end up in the emergency room. This doesn't look like any euphorbia I've seen."

The Euphorbiaceae is a large and very diverse plant family. Some are native to tropical regions, others to the slopes of the Himalaya Mountains. Some are common weeds in our landscapes and wild lands; some are prized ornamental plants. The Christmas poinsettia is a member of this family. The latex of some is extremely caustic; others have less toxic latex. Since your husband has had a bad experience with the latex, your choice to remove it is a very wise choice. Be careful when removing it!


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h.

Send your gardening questions to:
Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112
Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.