Plants photographed on Kyffhäuser
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Euphorbia nutans Lag.

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Euphorbia nutans

Image 1
18 Dec 2009

Euphorbia nutans

Image 2
18 Dec 2009

Euphorbia nutans

Image 3
Leaves, stems and flowers
18 Dec 2009

Euphorbia nutans

Image 4
Flowers and fruit
18 Dec 2009

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Full name: Euphorbia nutans Lag.
ID status: Fairly certain
Afrikaans common name(s): -
English common name(s): Nodding spurge
Synonym(s): Chamaesyce nutans (Lag.) Small (1903)
Euphorbia preslii Guss. (1827)
Status: Alien
Description: Euphorbia nutans is an annual herb growing erect with pairs of oblong leaves along its stems. The leaf may be up to 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) long, hairy or hairless, and finely toothed. The inflorescence may be solitary or borne in clusters. Each inflorescence is a cyathium, with flat white or red appendages surrounding the actual flowers. At the center of the array of appendages are several staminate flowers surrounding one pistillate flower. The latter develops into a fruit, which is a capsule about 2 millimetres (0.079 in) wide. (from

Flowers are small but distinct, mostly in clusters at the tips of branches, few in the lower leaf axils. A small cup, 1/8 inch across, holds the male and female flowers in the center. The rim of the cup has 4 white to pink, rounded petal-like appendages, each a thickened gland at the base that is green to red. The male flower anthers are yellow and nearly indistinct. The clump of styles of the single female flower in the center sit atop a round, 3-parted ovary on a short stalk that extends out from the flower center. Both the floral cup and the developing ovary are often blushed with red. The structure of this flower is called a “cyathium” and is common to all the Euphorbias. Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple. Leaves are opposite, oblong to oval oblong, 1/3 to 1 1/3 inch long and a third as wide, blunt or rounded at the tip, mostly stalkless or very short stalked, conspicuously asymmetrical sometimes with a shallow but distinct lobe on one side at the base. Leaf edges are variably toothed, mostly coarsely serrated all around the edge but sometimes only at the tip or on one side, or occasionally completely toothless. Surfaces on young leaves are covered with fine curled hairs, often in a single row, becoming hairless with age. The lower surface is typically light green and infrequently there is a splotch of red mid-leaf on the upper surface. Stems are often red colored, hairy on new growth, becoming smooth with age. The lower stem is erect though more spreading in the upper plant, and often drooping at the branch tips. Leaves and stems exude a milky sap when broken. Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod. Fruit is a 3-sectioned capsule, strongly 3-sided, stalked, 1/10 inch wide, that develops rapidly from the center of the cyathium, the clump of styles persisting at the tip. The capsule initially hangs down, becoming erect at maturity, and is typically tinged red. Each section contains a single seed. Seeds are oval-oblong, angular with rounded angles in cross-section, 1 to 1.6 mm long, slightly wavy on the surfaces, dark brown sometimes with a paler coating that may persist only along the angles. (from

Habit: Annual. Stem: generally +- erect (decumbent), repeatedly forking, 2-faced, sparsely hairy or becoming glabrous. Leaf: opposite throughout, 2-ranked, subsessile; stipules free or fused, triangular; blade 8--35 mm, oblong, finely toothed, glabrous to hairy, base asymmetric, tip obtuse. Inflorescence: cyathia generally in dense, axillary, cyme-like clusters, occasionally 1 per node; involucre 1--2 mm, obconic, glabrous; glands 4, < 0.5 mm, transversely oblong; petal-like appendage wider than gland, entire, white to red. Staminate Flower: 5--11. Pistillate Flower: styles forked +- 1/2. Fruit: 2--2.5 mm, ovoid, lobed, glabrous. Seed: 1--1.5 mm, ovoid, 4-angled, shallowly wrinkled, black to brown; knob 0. (from
Link(s) African Plant Database
JSTOR Plant Science
Kew Herbarium Catalogue
BGBM Berlin-Dahlem - Virtual Herbarium
Züricher Herbarien
iNaturalist (Namibia / Alex Dreyer)
iNaturalist (Namibia)
iNaturalist (southern Africa)
Flora of Zimbabwe
Fleurs de notre Terre - Galerie Namibie
Tree Atlas of Namibia
Content last updated: 18 Apr 2024

Note: The identification of some of the plants on this website is not 100% certain. Any comments will be highly appreciated. I would also be willing to supply higher resolution images upon request. Please contact me at the e-mail address given below.

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