Plants in the Euphorbiaceae in our region are annual or perennial herbs. The leaves are simple and typically alternate, though they maybe opposite or whorled in some species. The flowers are very small, are actinomorphic (radially symmetrical) and usually have either pollen-bearing or ovule-bearing parts, but not both. There may be no sepals or petals; if present, they attach below the ovary (i.e., the ovary is superior). There may be 1 to many stamens. Ovule-bearing flowers have 1 ovary and usually 3 styles. The styles in this family are usually forked or branched in some manner. Species in the genus Euphorbia have unique flowers in which several pollen-bearing flowers, each made up of only a stamen, are arranged together inside a cup-like structure, above which a single ovule-bearing flower grows on a stalk. The fruit is usually a schizocarp, which separates into 3 parts at maturity, each part dehiscing to release the seeds.
This Family’s Genera in New England:
Visit this family in the Dichotomous Key