CYPRESS SPURGE

Euphorbia cyparissias

Spurge Family [Euphorbiaceae]  

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
inner
inner8green
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ0
 
type
typeZumbel
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8hollow
 
stem
stem8milkysap stem8milkylatex
 
toxicity
toxicityZhigh
 
contact
contactZmedium
 

6th Sept 2015, dunes, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Up to 50cm high topped by a small flat-topped burst of striking yellow flowers.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Without flowers the young plant resembles Purple Toadflax in particular the bottle-brush appearance of the foliage.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Resembling bottle-brushes the foliage thins lower down revealing a reddening stem.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers crown the summit of the plant in a congested hemisphere. Without petals, the bright yellow bracts attract attention. A whorl of narrow but tapering bracts (which are slightly wider than the linear leaves) encircles the point at which the flower stalks emerge. Has three prominent styles.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The fruit is smaller than in most other Spurges, and folded over flat onto the pair of bright yellow bracts.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Three styles protrude above the bracts.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The fruit is smallish, greenish, folded over and also has three long and prominent 'stalks' atop.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD


6th Sept 2015, dunes, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Directed towards us the three styles are seen to have bi-lobed stigma atop.


6th Sept 2015, dunes, Hightown, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Two sets of syles and stigmas from the two flowers within the 'bowl'.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are long, crowded, linear and narrow (usually less that 2mm wide and narrowed at the base) with an abrupt triangular taper at the extremity. There is a faint mid-rib.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The lower leaves, sparser than those at the top, turn reddish and curl upwards before dropping off altogether.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Long linear leaves with slight mid-rib. Stem thick, reddening and oozes a toxic and caustic milky sap if broken.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn Beer Garden, Wildboarclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves end abruptly with a triangular taper. Slightly pointed at the tip.


Hybridises with :

  • Waldstein's Spurge to produce Gayer's Spurge (euphorbia × gayeri [E. waldsteinii × cyparissias])
  • Leafy Spurge to produce Euphorbia × pseudo esula [E. cyparissias × esula].

Some similarities to : Portland Spurge and to Dwarf Spurge (but that has far fewer and somewhat wider linear leaves.

A garden plant. More likely to be found in a garden in the North of the UK; grows wild mainly in the South. Cypress Spurge is one of 10 established alien species of Spurge. It is possibly native on chalk grassland in East Kent where it occurs most often.

Cypress Spurge contains a few phorbol esters of the Ingenane type in the milky latex. These compounds are both irritant on contact with skin, and toxic if ingested.The phorbol esters present in Cypress Spurge are called Cyparissias Factor 6 (Cy6), Cyparissias Factor 11 (Cy11) and Cyparissias Factor 14 (Cy14).

Other toxic compounds include a steroid, euphorbon (which is actually a mixture of α-euphorbol and β-euphobol (C30 steroids).

PHORBOL ESTERS


Phorbol esters of the Ingenane type contained within Cypress Spurge. It has been impossible to determine whether any of these correspond to the previously mentioned Cy6, Cy11 or Cy14 phorbol esters, since it seems these terms are no longer used. Active cyclopropane group shown in red. They are co-carcinogens.

The caustic latex was once used to eliminate freckles and obliterate warts and skin ulcers. It has also been used to promote hair growth. Ingestion of the aerial parts of the plant, or of the milky latex, causes a progression of symptoms starting with blistering of the mouth, and lesions in the throat, through to belly pain, bloody diarrhoea, eye mydriasis, heart arrhythmia, vertigo, inflammation of the kidneys, coma leading to death in one to three days. Livestock will normally shun Spurges, but may ingest it if it is mixed in with hay.


  Euphorbia cyparissias  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Euphorbiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Spurge family8Euphorbiceaeceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Euphorbia
Euphorbia
(Spurges)

CYPRESS SPURGE

Euphorbia cyparissias

Spurge Family [Euphorbiaceae]  

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