Euphorbia spathulata (Warty Spurge)
|Also known as:||Prairie Spurge, Blunt-leaved Spurge, Reticulate-seeded Spurge|
|Habitat:||sun; open prairies, outcrops, barrens, rocky hills|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||6 to 18 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Short-stalked, petal-less flowers are single at the tips of branching stems and the upper leaf axils, with separate male and female flowers together in a structure called a cyathium. The female flower is at the tip with 3 spreading, split styles on top of a 3-sectioned round ovary covered in warty bumps. At the base of the ovary are 5 to 8 minute male flowers with yellow stamens.
Surrounding the short stalk is a bell-shaped set of fused bracts (involucre) less than 1.5 mm long, with 4 or 5 yellowish, oblong glands around the tip edge. All flower parts are hairless.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are up to 1 inch long, finely toothed at least on the tip half, blunt to pointed at the tip, hairless, stalkless and typically yellowish-green. Lower stem leaves are alternate, generally spatula-shaped.
Leaves in the flowering branches are somewhat smaller and more oblong in shape. Flowering branches are forked with a whorl of 3 leaves at the base of the first fork and opposite leaves at the base of other forks. Stems are single and hairless.
The warty ovary expands to a 3-lobed, rounded capsule about 1/8 inch diameter. Inside are reddish-brown seeds up to 2 mm long, the surface textured with a fine network of veins.
Warty Spurge is aptly named, and its warty fruits are unique to the Euphorbia species present in Minnesota.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Renville County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?