Euphorbia misera Benth.

Cliff spurge
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)


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 2) misera.
Pronunciation: yoo-FOR-bee-a MIS-er-a.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.