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Euphorbia xanti (Baja Spurge) - An interesting fast growing openly-branched deciduous evergreen shrub to 3 to 6 feet tall more and spreading by rhizomes to form extensive stands. From the woody base arise the pencil-thin gray-green stems bearing small ovate-lanceolate green leaves that come out after the plant begins to flower and often drop when temperatures rise or soils dry in summer. The white, often blushed-light-to-dark-pink, fragrant "flowers", which are actually bract-like structures called the cyathium or cyathia (plural form), appear in terminal clusters from mid-winter to late spring, sometimes to late summer - so it seems to flower nearly year-round. Flowers are followed by small gray rounded capsules. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant but grows much faster and looks more lush with warm season irrigation. Hardy to 25° F with only light tip damage.

This is an unusual and attractive plant, looking a bit like a succulent Baby's Breath and it is one of the few fragrant Euphorbia, but it can be a little troublesome in the garden since it spreads by underground stems and can also self sow in the garden - this would be easier to control if one was not also hindered by the typical euphorbia toxic white sap that one wants to avoid. The best practice for this plant is to plant it on a slope or in the back of the garden where it has room to spread or withhold irrigation or keep it in a pot. If it needs to be cut back be sure to wear gloves, long sleeves and eye protection.

It is native to sea bluffs, dunes, rocky washes and slopes in central to southern Baja California and is also commonly called White Spurge, Confetti Flower and in Spanish by the names cenefa, indita, liga and jumetón. This plant was originally collected sometime between 1859-1861 by John Xantus de Vesey (1825-1894) a Hungarian zoologist and prominent 19th century specimen collector in North America. Xantus was also know as L.J. Xantus and many references to plants collected in California in the 1800's reference this name. This plant, initially called "Euphorbia gymnoclada n. sp. Fruticosa?" was described in 1862 by George Engelmann (1809-1884) with the specific epithet 'xanti' to honor Xantus and was first included in Pierre Boissier's "Icones Euphorbiarum" of that same year. Many texts, including Ira Wiggins Flora of Baja California (Stanford University Press 1980) use a spelling with a double "i" at the end of the name, making it "xantii" but since it was first described with the single "i" it is now listed correctly as Euphorbia xanti on The Plant List, the collaboration between the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew and Missouri Botanic Gardens. The information presented on this page is based on research that we have conducted about this plant in our library and from reliable online sources.