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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 11 | Euphorbiaceae

74. Euphorbia Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 450. 1753.

大戟属 da ji shu

Authors: Jin-shuang Ma & Michael G. Gilbert

Euphorbia griffithii

Credit: Harvard University Herbaria

Herbs (annual, biennial, or perennial), shrubs, or trees, very rarely subscandent, sometimes rhizomatous, monoecious or, rarely in Flora area, dioecious; indumentum of simple hairs, often absent, all parts with abundant white, very rarely yellow, latex; roots fibrous or tuberous. Stems sometimes succulent, terete or variously winged or tuberculate. Leaves alternate or opposite, rarely verticillate; stipules present or not, sometimes modified into glands or prickles; petiole often ill-defined to absent; leaf blade usually entire, sometimes serrulate or dentate. Inflorescence a flowerlike cyathium, single or often several in terminal or axillary, dichasial or monochasial cymes often in a "pseudumbel" with a terminal ± sessile cyathium subtended by a whorl of pedunculate cymes, each subtended by an involucral leaf; cyathium consisting of a bowl-shaped to tubular involucre subtended by a pair of bracts, "cyathophylls," enclosing several clusters of male flowers and 1 central female flower, occasionally cyathia unisexual, involucre margin with 4 or 5 lobes, cyathial glands (1-)4 or 5(-7), mostly alternating with involucral lobes, sometimes with petaloid appendages or a pair of horns. Male flower reduced to a single stamen, with an articulation at junction of pedicel and filament, subtended by slender bracteoles. Female flower pedicellate, reduced to a single ovary, rarely subtended by a very reduced perianth; ovary 3-loculed; ovules 1 per locule; styles 3, free, sometimes partly connate; stigma 2-lobed or not, ± capitate. Fruit a capsule, breaking into 3 2-valved cocci, dehiscence usually explosive, very rarely almost indehiscent. Seeds 1 per locule, globose to ovoid or ± cylindric; caruncle present or not; endosperm abundant; cotyledons large.

Up to 2000 species: worldwide, particularly in drier areas of the tropics, especially diverse in Africa; one major group centered in temperate regions; 77 species (11 endemic, nine introduced) in China.

Many species are grown as ornamentals, particularly the more succulent species by specialist collectors. Members of Euphorbia subg. Esula are grown as garden plants, while E. pulcherrima and E. milii are extremely important in the horticultural trade. Some species have been investigated as sources of rubber but without great success; others are of possible interest for the seed oils. Many, perhaps most, species have been used to some extent medicinally.

Euphorbia consanguinea Schrenk has been recorded as being used in Chinese traditional medicine in Xinjiang, and E. schugnanica B. Fedtschenko and E. seguieriana Necker have been reported from Xinjiang from local taxonomic work, but no material has been seen and these records must remain doubtful. Further taxa have been recorded for China by Govaerts et al. (World Checkl. Euphorbiaceae: http://www.kew.org/wcsp/home.do), but these could not be confirmed. These include Himalayan species E. jacquemontii Boissier and E. pseudosikkimensis (Hurusawa & Yu. Tanaka) Radcliffe-Smith, which might occur in Xizang; the C Asian species E. andrachnoides Schrenk, E. microcarpa (Prokhanov) Krylov, and E. potaninii Prokhanov, from W Siberia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, which could extend into the adjacent area of N and NW China; and widespread Eurasian taxa E. falcata Linnaeus and E. palustris Linnaeus, which might also extend into NW China.


1 Trees or shrubs; stems succulent, leaves often inserted on ± raised ribs or tubercles and each subtended by 1 or 2 pairs of spines, less often stems terete, longitudinally finely striate; leaves readily caducous; inflorescences small axillary cymes, usually subterminal, if terminal then in sessile cluster and plant dioecious   (2)
+ Herbs or shrubs; stems herbaceous, sometimes hollow and inflated, always terete, leaves never subtended by spines or prickles; inflorescence terminal, often pseudumbellate, rarely reduced to solitary cyathium, or inflorescences lateral   (6)
       
2 (1) Trees; stems and branches green, terete, without angles or tubercles, longitudinally finely striate; cyathia in terminal clusters, unisexual (plants dioecious) (4. E. subg. Tirucalli).   27 E. tirucalli
+ Shrubs or shrublike plants; stems and branches green or brown-green, succulent with spines on wings or angles; cyathia axillary, usually subterminal, usually bisexual   (3)
       
3 (2) Irregularly branched shrubs; inflorescence long pedunculate; involucral leaves conspicuous, usually red, sometimes yellow; spines not differentiated from grayish brown stem (5. E. subg. Lacanthis).   28 E. milii
+ Shrubs or small trees with ± erect or ascending branches; inflorescence subsessile to shortly pedunculate; involucral leaves very inconspicuous, same color as inflorescence; spines inserted on gray to brown "spine shields" sharply differentiated from green stem (6. E. subg. Euphorbia)   (4)
       
4 (3) Stems ± terete, leaves inserted on spirally arranged tubercles, spine shield widely separated.   29 E. neriifolia
+ Stems winged or ribbed, leaves arranged along ribs, spines shields often ± contiguous   (5)
       
5 (4) Stem 3(or 4)-winged, wings thin and irregularly dentate, 1-2 cm wide.   30 E. antiquorum
+ Stem 5-7-angular, angles impressed and flat, irregularly repand-dentate.   31 E. royleana
       
6 (1) Cyathial glands with petal-like appendage   (7)
+ Cyathial glands without petaloid appendage, sometimes with a pair of horns   (27)
       
7 (6) Leaf blade symmetric at base, upper leaves opposite or verticillate, lowermost leaves sometimes alternate, stipules absent; inflorescence a terminal pseudumbel (2. E. subg. Agaloma)   (8)
+ Leaf blade oblique at base, always opposite, distichous, stipules present; inflorescence a lateral cyme or solitary cyathium, sometimes associated leaves reduced and inflorescence apparently terminal (1. E. subg. Chamaesyce)   (9)
       
8 (7) Herbs, annual; lower leaves alternate, sessile, green, with white margin; cyathial gland appendages white, entire.   20 E. marginata
+ Shrubs or small trees, whole plant reddish; leaves always verticillate, conspicuously petiolate, uniformly reddish; cyathial gland appendages yellow-white, 4- or 5-toothed.   21 E. cotinifolia subsp. cotinoides
       
9 (7) Subshrubs, woody at base; leaf blade leathery or thinly leathery   (10)
+ Herbs; leaf blade membranous or chartaceous   (12)
       
10 (9) Leaf blade margin serrulate at least at apex; cyathia axillary, solitary; cyathial gland appendages conspicuous, wider than glands.   3 E. garanbiensis
+ Leaf blade margin entire; cyathia terminal and subterminal, in cymes; cyathial gland conspicuous or not   (11)
       
11 (10) Leaves ± patent from stem and not obviously overlapping; leaf blade elliptic to ovate-oblong, apex obtuse or rounded; appendages narrowly elliptic, inconspicuous.   1 E. atoto
+ Leaves ± adpressed to stem, conspicuously overlapping; leaf blade ovate, apex acute; appendages obovate to reniform, conspicuous.   2 E. sparrmannii
       
12 (9) Stem ascending to suberect; cyathia in pedunculate cymes   (13)
+ Stem prostrate; cyathia solitary   (17)
       
13 (12) Capsule pubescent   (14)
+ Capsule glabrous   (15)
       
14 (13) Stem with a mixture of long, yellow to brown, multicellular hairs and minute white hairs; gland appendages narrowly obtriangular.   7 E. hirta
+ Stem uniformly white puberulent; gland appendages transversely elliptic.   8 E. indica
       
15 (13) Leaf blade distinctly serrulate, petiole 1.5-2.5 mm.   6 E. bifida
+ Leaf blade entire or inconspicuously repand, petiole usually ± absent   (16)
       
16 (15) Stipules 0.7-0.9 mm; capsule 2-2.5 mm.   4 E. hyssopifolia
+ Stipules 1.3-1.5 mm; capsule 1-1.5 mm.   5 E. hypericifolia
       
17 (12) Capsule glabrous   (18)
+ Capsule pubescent   (22)
       
18 (17) Leaf blade 3-5 × 2-4 mm   (19)
+ Leaf blade ovate to lanceolate, 5-10 × 4-6 mm   (20)
       
19 (18) Internodes of uppermost shoots shorter than leaves; leaf base obviously oblique; cyathial gland appendage entire.   9 E. heyneana
+ Internodes of uppermost shoots often longer than leaves; leaf base ± symmetrical; cyathial gland appendage dentate.   12 E. makinoi
       
20 (18) Leaf blade margin completely entire; cyathial gland appendage conspicuous, reniform, entire.   11 E. serpens
+ Leaf blade margin serrulate at least at apex; cyathial gland appendage inconspicuous, elliptic, narrower than glands and/or ± repand to dentate   (21)
       
21 (20) Annual herbs; stipules usually lacerate into linear segments.   14 E. humifusa
+ Perennial herbs; stipules entire, triangular.   10 E. taihsiensis
       
22 (17) Gland appendage expanded, ca. 2-4 × as wide as gland; stem and internodes conspicuous.   13 E. granulata
+ Gland appendage not expanded, not wider than gland proper; stem and internodes inconspicuous   (23)
       
23 (22) Stem densely pubescent along upper side; ovary and capsule puberulent mainly along angles.   15 E. prostrata
+ Stem sericeous to sparsely pilose or hispid; ovary and capsule uniformly pubescent or sparsely pilose   (24)
       
24 (23) Stem uniformly densely softly hispid; leaf blade adaxially softly pilose.   19 E. hispida
+ Stem glabrous to sparsely pilose or densely tomentulose; leaf blade adaxially pubescent or glabrous   (25)
       
25 (24) Capsule ca. 1 mm, partly enclosed by cyathium at maturity; leaf blade uniformly green to reddish, obovate-oblong to oblong-lanceolate, 3-8 × 2-5 mm.   16 E. thymifolia
+ Capsule ca. 2 mm, completely exserted from cyathium at maturity; leaf blade with 1 or more purple blotches or spots   (26)
       
26 (25) Stem densely tomentulose; leaf blade usually with an elongate purple spot centrally adaxially.   17 E. maculata
+ Stem glabrous to sparsely pilose; leaf blade with several small purple spots adaxially.   18 E. hsinchuensis
       
27 (6) Stipules present; involucre with 1(-3) glands (3. E. subg. Poinsettia)   (28)
+ Stipules absent; involucre with 4 or 5 glands (7. E. subg. Esula)   (32)
       
28 (27) Upper leaves uniformly green   (29)
+ Upper leaves partly or wholly red, yellow, or white   (30)
       
29 (28) Glands usually 3; leaves with petiole, 2-4 cm.   25 E. hainanensis
+ Glands usually 1, rarely 2 or 3; leaves sessile or subsessile.   26 E. dentata
       
30 (28) Upper leaves uniformly bright scarlet (or yellow or white in some cultivars).   22 E. pulcherrima
+ Upper leaves green with a pale or red blotch at base   (31)
       
31 (30) Involucral leaves usually red at base; glands 2-lipped, opening narrowly oblong.   23 E. cyathophora
+ Involucral leaves pale at base, sometimes green; glands funnel-like, opening rounded.   24 E. heterophylla
       
32 (27) Leaves opposite, decussate; capsule walls spongy, dehiscence sometimes very delayed.   32 E. lathyris
+ Leaves usually alternate, rarely opposite, never decussate; capsule walls thin, not spongy, always readily dehiscent   (33)
       
33 (32) Glands horned or truncated, fimbriate or emarginate   (34)
+ Glands suborbicular or ovate, without any appendage   (47)
       
34 (33) Glands funnelform   (35)
+ Glands flat, never funnelform   (36)
       
35 (34) Leaf blade obovate, 6-8 × 2-3.5 cm; glandular vein conspicuous.   64 E. yanjinensis
+ Leaf blade long linear, 9-12 cm × 4-8 mm; glandular vein inconspicuous.   65 E. tongchuanensis
       
36 (34) Annual herbs; leaves opposite   (37)
+ Perennial herbs; leaves alternate   (41)
       
37 (36) Leaf blade ovate or obovate, more than 7-8 mm wide; plant 10-30 cm tall   (38)
+ Leaf blade linear, less than 6 mm wide; plant 10-40 cm tall   (39)
       
38 (37) Plant 10-30 cm tall; leaf blade obovate, apex dentate; seeds with small pores.   66 E. peplus
+ Plant 10-15 cm tall; leaf blade long ovate to ovate-elliptic; seeds with striae.   67 E. turczaninowii
       
39 (37) Plant 35-40 cm tall; seeds gray-white, striate.   68 E. sororia
+ Plant less than 20 cm tall; seeds not striate   (40)
       
40 (39) Plant 10-17(-30) cm tall; leaf blade 3-5 mm wide; seeds ovoid-rounded, whitish.   69 E. franchetii
+ Plant 10-20 cm tall; leaf blade 1-2 mm wide; seeds angular-terete, gray.   70 E. inderiensis
       
41 (36) Gland margin serrulate.   71 E. lioui
+ Gland margin not serrulate   (42)
       
42 (41) Leaf blade linear, lanceolate, or oblanceolate, 1-4 × 0.2-0.5 cm   (43)
+ Leaf blade ovate, obovate, or oblong-ovate, 2-7 × 0.4-3 cm   (44)
       
43 (42) Involucral leaves 2, similar to normal leaves; involucre campanulate.   72 E. dracunculoides
+ Involucral leaves 4-6, oblong; involucre broadly campanulate.   73 E. prolifera
       
44 (42) Leaf blade 2-3 cm wide; involucral leaves and rays 6-10; plants 60-90 cm tall.   74 E. latifolia
+ Leaf blade less than 10-15 mm wide; involucral leaves and rays 3-6; plants 20-70 cm tall   (45)
       
45 (44) Rhizome thin and long, with adventitious shoots.   75 E. sieboldiana
+ Root without rhizome, without adventitious shoots   (46)
       
46 (45) Root with tuber at end.   76 E. kansui
+ Root without tuber at end.   77 E. esula
       
47 (33) Glands 4, insertion peltate; capsule reticulate; leaf blade margin prominently serrate.   33 E. helioscopia
+ Glands 4 or 5, insertion marginal; capsule smooth or verrucose; leaf blade margin entire or serrulate   (48)
       
48 (47) Capsule verrucose; glands 4   (49)
+ Capsule smooth; glands 4 or 5   (60)
       
49 (48) Leaf blade margin serrulate   (50)
+ Leaf blade entire   (53)
       
50 (49) Stem multibranched apically, each divided again; plants pilose, especially toward apex.   55 E. pilosa
+ Stem multibranched basally, branches undivided; plants glabrous or very sparely pilose   (51)
       
51 (50) Plants pale red or purplish; cyathia brown.   52 E. pachyrrhiza
+ Plants green; cyathia yellow-green   (52)
       
52 (51) Leaf blade oblong, 2-3 cm × 3-6 mm; glandular lobes triangular-rounded.   53 E. buchtormensis
+ Leaf blade long ovate-elliptic, 2-3 cm × 8-10 mm; glandular lobes spine-form.   54 E. alatavica
       
53 (49) Root fibrous, less than 5 mm in diam   (54)
+ Root woody, more than 6 mm in diam   (56)
       
54 (53) Herbs annual; capsule trigonous, furrowed, conspicuous.   56 E. heishuiensis
+ Herbs perennial; capsule without furrows   (55)
       
55 (54) Leaf blade long elliptic to oblong, 1-2.5 cm × 3-6 mm; ovary and capsule densely verrucose.   57 E. altaica
+ Leaf blade elliptic, 1-2 × 0.8-1.2 cm; ovary and capsule sparsely minutely tuberculate.   58 E. alpina
       
56 (53) Ovary and capsule sparsely or obscurely verrucose at least when young   (57)
+ Ovary and capsule densely verrucose/tuberculate   (58)
       
57 (56) Stem 3 or 4 branches at base, each branch undivided; plants 20-50 cm tall; leaf blade 1-3 cm.   59 E. micractina
+ Stem branches both from base and top, and each branch divided again; plants 50-80 cm tall; leaf blade 3-5 cm.   60 E. lucorum
       
58 (56) Tubercles on capsule laterally compressed; root 2-5 cm in diam..   61 E. macrorrhiza
+ Tubercles on capsule rounded; root less than 2 cm in diam   (59)
       
59 (58) Seeds brown, adaxially lightly striate; style free.   62 E. pekinensis
+ Seeds yellow-brown, adaxially without striae; styles connate at base.   63 E. jolkinii
       
60 (48) Glands 5; rootstock not rhizomatous   (61)
+ Glands 4; rootstock rhizomatous   (64)
       
61 (60) Leaf blade oblong, or suboblong, apex truncate, repand   (62)
+ Leaf blade oblong or lanceolate, apex serrulate   (63)
       
62 (61) Annual herbs; leaf blade 1-2 × 0.3-1 cm; seeds compressed-ovoid, (3-)4-5 × ca. 3 mm, greenish brown, spotted.   34 E. turkestanica
+ Perennial herbs; leaf blade 1.8-3 × 1-1.5 cm, mostly much smaller; seeds ovoid-globose, 2.5-3 × 1.8-2.3 mm, pale fawn with brown marbling.   35 E. altotibetica
       
63 (61) Plants less than 30 cm tall, leaves usually apically clustered; leaf blade oblong.   36 E. tibetica
+ Plants 50-90 cm tall, leaves usually distributed along stem; leaf blade lanceolate.   37 E. soongarica
       
64 (60) Herbs 5-7(-15) cm tall; leaf blade succulent, without midrib.   38 E. humilis
+ Herbs more than 20 cm tall; leaf blade papery, with midrib clearly defined   (65)
       
65 (64) Involucral leaves intensely colored, yellow to red, or purplish   (66)
+ Involucral leaves usually green, without conspicuous pigment   (68)
       
66 (65) Stems usually in clusters; involucral leaves yellow, caruncle yellow.   39 E. sikkimensis
+ Stems usually solitary; involucral leaves red, reddish yellow, or purple   (67)
       
67 (66) Involucral glands orbicular; styles free; cyathophylls bright red or reddish yellow; plants often extensively rhizomatous, less often from shallow tuber.   40 E. griffithii
+ Involucral glands oblong; style connate or less lobed; cyathophylls often suffused with very dark purple; plants from deeply buried tuber.   41 E. stracheyi
       
68 (65) Root linear, less than 5 mm thick   (69)
+ Root cylindric, more than 1 cm in diam   (71)
       
69 (68) Stems few, branching mainly toward apex; involucral leaves and rays 3-5; plants 50-90 cm tall.   51 E. hylonoma
+ Stems many, branching at or very near ground level; involucral leaves 2, rays 2 or absent; plants less than 25 cm tall   (70)
       
70 (69) Cyathia solitary, terminal.   49 E. monocyathium
+ Cyathia several, in 2-rayed dichasial cymes.   50 E. kozlovii
       
71 (68) Involucre pedunculate, short; ovary exserted from cyathium, up to 4-5 mm.   42 E. donii
+ Involucre without peduncle; ovary never beyond cup   (72)
       
72 (71) Leaf blade cordate at base, or auriculate expanded, margin ciliate.   43 E. blepharophylla
+ Leaf blade attenuate or rounded at base, margin not ciliate   (73)
       
73 (72) Plant suffused purplish or light reddish   (74)
+ Plant green; rootstock rhizomatous   (75)
       
74 (73) Root usually ± swollen, radishlike.   44 E. rapulum
+ Rootstock terete, 30-50 cm.   45 E. thomsoniana
       
75 (73) Capsule 9-11 mm in diam.; seeds angulate-terete, 5-6 × 4-5 mm.   46 E. wallichii
+ Capsule less than 7 mm in diam.; seeds less than 4 mm   (76)
       
76 (75) Glands glabrous inside; ovary and capsule glabrous.   47 E. kansuensis
+ Glands white pilose inside; ovary densely white pilose; capsule white pilose.   48 E. fischeriana

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