Euphorbia peplus L.

Petty Spurge
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)


Petty spurge is an erect, glabrous annual growing to 18" tall with branching stems and milky juice.  The leaves are alternate, entire, smooth-margined, to 1-3/8" long, and obovate to ovate with a tip that is obtuse to retuse.  The upper leaves are smaller, ovate and opposite.  The flowers are in greenish bell-shaped cyathia on terminal umbels and have four nectariferous glands with yellow, two-horned lobes that are spreading or crescent-shaped.  There are 10-15 staminate flowers and a single pistillate flower with a style that is divided approximately 1/2 its length.  The staminate flowers are usually clustered around the pistillate flower which is in the center of the cyathium.  The fruit is a glabrous, spheric capsule that separates into three 2-valved carpels, and the seeds are oblong, about 1/16" long, 4-angled, dotted and white to gray.  Petty spurge is a common weed found in gardens and other moist disturbed areas mostly around human habitations, blooming from February to August.  It is a native of Europe.  The sap has a toxic component which can cause severe irritation to the eye.

Click here for name derivations: 1) Euphorbia 2) peplus.
Pronunciation: yoo-FOR-bee-a PEP-lus.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.


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