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Medusa's Head

Euphorbia caput-medusae

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Medusa's Head (Euphorbia caput-medusae) at Roger's Gardens

Medusa's Head foliage

Medusa's Head foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Medusa's Head (Euphorbia caput-medusae) at Roger's Gardens

Medusa's Head

Medusa's Head

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  10 inches

Spread:  3 feet

Sunlight:  full sun 

Hardiness Zone:  8b


A unique succulent with a central, tap-rooted caudex from which emerge many snake like, bumpy, trailing branches with knobbed ends, where small deciduous leaves emerge; white flowers rise from short stalks in spring; great for rock gardens

Ornamental Features

Medusa's Head is primarily valued in the garden for its spreading and trailing habit of growth. It has masses of beautiful clusters of white flowers held atop the stems from mid spring to mid summer, which emerge from distinctive red flower buds, and which are most effective when planted in groupings. Its attractive succulent narrow leaves remain grayish green in color throughout the year.

Landscape Attributes

Medusa's Head is a dense herbaceous evergreen perennial with a trailing habit of growth, eventually spilling over the edges of hanging baskets and containers. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Medusa's Head is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • Rock/Alpine Gardens
  • Border Edging
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Medusa's Head will grow to be about 10 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 3 feet. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense right to the ground. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years. As an evegreen perennial, this plant will typically keep its form and foliage year-round.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets. It can be propagated by division.

Medusa's Head is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its trailing habit of growth, it is ideally suited for use as a 'spiller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the edges where it can spill gracefully over the pot. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Massing  Rock  Edging  Garden  Groundcover  Container 
Flowers  Foliage Color  Texture  Plant Form 
Ornamental Features