The Botanic Garden has been a Plant Heritage National Plant Collection holder of hardy Euphorbias since 1983. There are over 2000 species of Euphorbia, many of which are not hardy in our climate. A selection of the tender species can be found growing in The Glasshouses.
Plant Heritage, formerly the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG), was founded in 1979. Their mission is to promote the conservation of cultivated plants in the British Isles by co-coordinating the 650 National Plant Collections. As a National Plant Collection holder the Botanic Garden has a responsibility to document, develop and preserve the Euphorbia collection for the future. It is well utilised as a reference collection and an important resource for University teaching.
The collection is predominantly housed within the Family Beds, but Euphorbia species and cultivars are cultivated throughout the Garden. There are species suitable for almost any soil type and condition. The Mediterranean species such as E. characias, E. myrsinites and E. nicaeensis can be grown in dry conditions and full sun. Whereas E. griffithii and E. palustris are better grown in heavy soils and damp sites. Euphorbias also offer a long season of interest, from the early spring flowering E. rigida and E. polychroma to the autumn flowering E. nereidum and E. schillingii. Many display excellent autumn foliage colour, including E. cyparissias and E. villosa. The collection also contains the rare species of E. stygiana, a plant that the Garden has been actively conserving for a number of years. It is also the home of a new hybrid, Euphorbia x pasteurii, now widely available in the trade.
The Garden is further documenting this collection by preparing type herbarium specimens for inclusion in the University of Oxford Herbaria.
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