(Euphorbia corollata) Spurge family

Flowers - (Apparently) white, small, borne in forked,

long-stalked umbels, subtended by green bracts; but the true

flowers are minute, and situated within the white cup-shaped

involucre, usually mistaken for a corolla. Staminate flowers

scattered over inner surface of involucre, each composed of a

single stamen on a thread-like pedicel with a rudimentary calyx

or tiny bract below it. A solitary pistillate flower at bottom of

involucre, consisting of 3-celled ovary; 3 styles, 2-cleft, at

length forming an erect 3-lobed capsule separating into 3

2-valved carpels. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, often brightly spotted,

simple below, umbellately 5-branched above (usually). Leaves:

Linear, lance-shaped or oblong, entire; lower ones alternate,

upper ones whorled.

Preferred Habitat - Dry soil, gravelly or sandy.

Flowering Season - April-October.

Distribution - From Kansas and Ontario to the Atlantic.

A very commonplace and uninteresting looking weed is this spurge,

which no one but a botanist would suspect of kinship with the

brilliant vermilion poinsettia, so commonly grown in American

greenhouses. Examination shows that these little bright white

cups of the flowering spurge, simulating a five-cleft corolla,

are no more the true flowers in the one case than the large red

bracts around the poinsettia's globular greenish blossom

involucres are in the other. From the milky juice alone one might

guess the spurge to be related to the rubber plant. Still another

familiar cousin is the stately castor-oil plant; and while the

common dull purplish IPECAC SPURGE (E. Ipecacuanhae) also

suggests unpleasant doses, it is really a member of quite another

family that furnishes the old-fashioned emetic. The flowering

spurge, having its staminate and pistillate flowers distinct,

depends upon flies, its truest benefactors, to transfer pollen

from the former to the latter.