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Spurge Family

Biology Of Spurges, Economic Products Obtained From Spurges, Horticultural Spurges, Spurges As Weeds

Spurges or euphorbs are species of plants in the family Eurphorbiaceae. This is a rather large family of plants, consisting of about 7,500 species and 300 genera, mostly distributed in the tropics and subtropics, but also in the temperate zones. The most species-rich genera of spurges are the Euphorbia with about 1,600 species, and Croton with 750 species.

Most species in the spurge family have a white latex in their stems and leaves that is poisonous if it contacts the eyes or other membranes, or if it is ingested. The seeds are also often poisonous. Even rainwater dripping from the canopy of the manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella) in the West Indies has enough toxin in it to cause a dermatitis reaction in people standing beneath.

Some species in the spurge family are economically important, either as food plants, ornamentals, medicinals, or weeds.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Spectroscopy to Stoma (pl. stomata)