T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Euphorbia maculata (Spotted spurge)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Euphorbia
Species: E. maculata
Binomial name: Euphorbia maculata
Synonyms: Chamaesyce maculata, Euphorbia supina
Common name: Spotted spurge, Creeping Spurge, Blotched Spurge, Spotted Sandmat, Milk Purslane.

Warning: The milky sap or latex of Euphorbia plant is highly toxic and an irritant to the skin and eye. It the multitude of di- and triterpenes. People who handle Euphorbia plants should wear eye and skin protection. Invisible vapours of the sap can cause discomfort, you should provide for adequate aeration.
Visit http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/plants-toxic-if-eaten-by-man.html

Euphorbia maculata is an annual plant native to North America. It is was the first common from the Waikato north but is now extending its range throughout New Zealand.
It grows close to the ground, often forming a dense mat. It can establish itself in a variety of soils in sunny open areas such as gardens and lawns, and in sidewalk cracks. It reduces the growth of desirable plants. It can develop a central taproot up to 60 cm long.
Euphorbia maculata stems can grow up to 45 cm long along the ground. It has small oval leaves (>10mm) that are arranged in opposite pairs. Their margins are mildly serrated. The leaves are hairier on the underside and on the top side there is a maroon coloured spot in the centre. In dry conditions, they develop a purple tinge.
The flowers are very small, with four pinkish petals and consist only of stamens and pistils grouped in small, flower-like cups, called cyathia, in the leaf axils (where the leaf joins the stem). 1 mm long seeds are formed in a three-celled capsule.
The plant is poisonous and considered carcinogenic. Broken stems secrete a milky sap that is a mild skin irritant and can cause a rash in some people.
Euphorbia maculata can kill sheep grazing in pastures where it is the predominant weed. It is recorded that sheep that have consumed as little as 0.62% of their body weight of this plant have died within a few hours.

A small plant


The pink hairy stems and flower buds

The leaves with serrated margins. Some plants leaves do not have maroon coloured spot in the centre

Leaves with a maroon spot.

The hairy stems.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/