Euphorbia characias, the Mediterranean Spurge, is a flowering plant of the Euphorbiaceae family typical of Mediterranean vegetation.
There are two main subspecies that are found in different regions of the Mediterranean Basin. These often overlap in the western areas of distribution:
Euphorbia characias subsp. characias occurs from Portugal to Crete.
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii is found from Southern France to Anatolia.
It is a tough perennial plant, capable of resisting long periods of drought. It is also resistant to salinity, making it a good plant for seaside gardens.
Garden cultivars are found under the names 'Portuguese Velvet', 'Black pearl', 'Thelma's Giant', 'Lambrook Gold', 'Silver Swan' and 'Tasmanian Tiger', among others. They come in a variety of colors, from silvery grey and bluish green to greenish yellow. These garden varieties are valued in Mediterranean or desert style landscaping.
This bush also has uses in traditional medicine - like many other species of genus Euphorbia its toxic white sap has been used to treat skin excrecences, like cancers, tumors, and warts since ancient times.