SUN SPURGE

Euphorbia helioscopia

Spurge Family [Euphorbiaceae]  

month8apr month8april month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept month8oct month8nov

status
statusZarchaeophyte
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
inner
inner8green
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ0
 
type
typeZumbel
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8hollow
 
stem
stem8milkysap stem8milkylatex
 
smell
smell8vanilla
vanilla
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 
contact
contactZmedium
 

15th July 2009, Martin Mere, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
An annual weed of gardens, up to 50cm tall, sometimes branched, as here. First branch often displaying five-fold symmetry, with five leaves at the junction of five parting stems.


4th Aug 2009, Martin Mere, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Flowerheads at first bright yellowish-green. Leaves oval. Flowerheads form a rather flattish area. Stems reddish, exude a toxic and caustic milky sap if broken.


15th July 2009, Martin Mere, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The next branch usually exhibits three-fold symmetry, with three leaves at the base of three branching stems.


4th Aug 2009, Martin Mere, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves/bracts are often in adjacent pairs with the pair on the pairs on the outer part of the plant. The bracts are more deeply serrated at the extremities.


4th Aug 2009, Martin Mere, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
The flowerheads are distinctly flattened in appearance, a little like umbels. The leaves or bracts are widest past the mid-point, where also the leaves teeth are more pronounced. The fruits are smooth and have three lobes. There are no petals as such but 4 greenish oval lobes without any horns or crescents whatsoever, which is usual for Spurges and one of the identifying features of Sun Spurge.


4th Aug 2009, Martin Mere, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Sun Spurge is the commonest Spurge with toothed leaves/bracts. The fruits are small with two protuberances extending from the end.


4th Aug 2009, Martin Mere, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Higher up the plant the last branching may be two-way symmetric, just bifurcating.


4th Aug 2009, Martin Mere, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Here displaying three-fold symmetry at a branching.


Easily confused with : Sea Spurge (if only because the first word begins with 'S' and has three letters).

Many similarities to : Portland Spurge

Hybridizes with: Portland Spurge, the hybrid occurring in only one hectad on the coast of Mid-Wales.

The only common Spurge with toothed leaves (toothed more at the extremities). the flower bracts are in adjacent rather than opposite pairs as is the more usual for Spurges. The flowers have no petals, just four small oval lobes; the lobes in the case of Sun Spurge being without horns or crescents of any form or kind.

Inhabits gardens, allotments, wastelands and cultivated and arable land as a weed. Flowers through mild winters.

The specific epithet 'helioscopia' refers of the plant looking at the Sun [rather than being 'heliotropic' where some plants are able to track the Sun as it moves across the sky this being a Photonastic response which some plants such as Winter Heliotrope ((Petasites fragrans) have acquired].


  Euphorbia helioscopia  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Euphorbiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Spurge family8Euphorbiceaeceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Euphorbia
Euphorbia
(Spurges)

SUN SPURGE

Euphorbia helioscopia

Spurge Family [Euphorbiaceae]  

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