This genus is extremely varied in its plant forms and habitats, ranging from large, succulent trees and tiny, compact succulents to herbaceous perennials and semi- or evergreen, herbaceous shrubs. Their unique flower structure consists of conspicuous leaf bracts of yellow, red, purple, brown, or green, with tiny male and female floral parts in contrasting colors. Many species are notable for these peculiar flowers, as well as their handsome foliage and their remarkable form.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsThe herbaceous species are well suited to a rock garden, mixed border, or to naturalizing. The succulents are well suited to a dry tropical garden and warm or temperate greenhouse. Their milky sap may cause irritation to skin, and severe discomfort if ingested.
CareDepends upon the species.
PropagationSow seed of annuals in situ, seed of tender succulents when ripe, and seed of hardy perennials when ripe or in spring. Divide perennials in early spring.
ProblemsNematodes, spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, fungal and bacterial diseases