Euphorbia spathulata (Warty Spurge)

Plant Info
Also known as: Prairie Spurge, Blunt-leaved Spurge, Reticulate-seeded Spurge
Genus:Euphorbia
Family:Euphorbiaceae (Spurge)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:native
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct

[photo of flowers] 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.

[photo of bracts] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of lower leaves] 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.

[photo of upper leaves] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] 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.

Notes:

Warty Spurge is aptly named, and its warty fruits are unique to the Euphorbia species present in Minnesota.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Renville County.

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