It has many woolly stems and characteristic black or dark brown nectar glands in the cyathia, which are borne in dense spherical clusters, from spring to early summer. The fruits are smooth capsules. It is a tough plant, capable of resisting long periods of drought. It grows preferably in dry areas, often far away from the water table, both in flat as well as in mountainous terrain. This plant can also resist high salinity.
Two main subspecies are found in different regions of the Mediterranean Basin. These often overlap in the western areas of distribution:
Euphorbia characias is valued as an ornamental plant for its ability to survive drought and its groundcovering capabilities. It is suitable for any location, sheltered or exposed, in light soil in full sun. It is fully hardy down to −10 °C (14 °F).