Cliff spurge is an irregularly-branched shrub
growing to 40" tall with grayish twigs and somewhat hairy young
growth becoming glabrous in age. The leaves are round to ovate,
entire, short-petioled, and mostly fascicled, and have fimbriate stipules.
What appears to be a single flower is in reality a cyathium, which
is a cup-shaped involucre in which there is a single female flower with
one pistil surrounded by male flowers consisting of one stamen each.
The cyathia are solitary and terminal, hairy, and are about 1/8"
long. There are five purple glands each with a thin, white to
yellowish crenulated appendage. The pistillate flower has a style
divided to half its length. The fruit is a spheric, lobed, subglabrous
capsule to 3/16" long with round to ovoid seeds that are white
to gray, and slightly pitted or wrinkled. Cliff spurge is an occasional
inhabitant of rocky slopes and coastal bluffs from San Diego to Orange
County, and on the Channel Islands, blooming from January to August.
The species name, misera, means "wretched," but
it seems mis-named to me for there is nothing wretched about this shrub
with its lovely little flowers. These pictures were taken at the
Dana Point Harbor.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Euphorbia
Pronunciation: yoo-FOR-bee-a MIS-er-a.
Click here for Botanical