Euphorbiaceae

Euphorbiaceae

Euphorbia, from the Latin euphorbea and named after Euphorbius, a Greek physician in the first century AD who used the latex for medicinal purposes. This large family has now been subdivided on the basis of molecular studies supported by other evidence. Families formerly included are Phyllanthaceae, Picrodendraceae and Putrajivaceae. Plants range from trees to herbs and climbers, sap (latex) maybe clear or milky or coloured. Leaves are simple or palmately compound or absent or in many succulent species much reduced; stellate hairs or lepidote scales common in one subfamily. Extra-floral nectaries common at junction of leaf blade with petiole. Flowers unisexual often arranged in an inflorescence termed a cyathium. Carpels typically 3, ovary with a single ovule per locule, and 3 styles but this is variable. Fruit usually dry dehiscent, seeds commonly with a caruncle.