Scientific Name:
Euphorbia L., Sp. Pl. 450 (1753)
  • = Chamaesyce Gray, Nat. Arr. Brit. Pl. 2, 260 (1821) nom. superfl.
  • = Synadenium Boiss.
Vernacular Name(s):
Milkweed; Spurge

Usually monoecious, rarely dioecious annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or trees, sometimes succulent, with milky sap.  Lvs present or O, stipulate or not, alternate or opposite, usually entire or serrate, rarely lobed.  Cyathia solitary, clustered or umbellate;  umbels or clusters axillary or terminal, simple or compound and often forming many times compound dichasia;  rays and cyathia usually subtended by lvs.  Fls lacking a perianth, grouped in cyathia consisting of a cup-shaped involucre with usually 4–5 petal-like glands; glands serrate, entire, or with 2 horns;  cyathium usually with several ♂ fls each consisting of a single stamen jointed to a pedicel and often separated from each other by small bracteoles, and a single usually longer-pedicellate (rarely sessile) ♀ fl.;  ovary usually 3-celled with a single ovule in each cell;  styles usually 3, often 2-fid at tips.  Fr. usually a 3-celled capsule separating at maturity from the persistent axis;  seeds smooth or variously sculptured.

[From:  Webb et al. (1988) Flora of New Zealand. Volume 4.]

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Number of species in New Zealand within Euphorbia L.
Indigenous (Endemic)1
Exotic: Fully Naturalised14
Exotic: Casual11
Connor, H.E. 1977: The Poisonous Plants in New Zealand. Edition 2. Government Printer, Wellington.
Connor, H.E.; Fountain, J. 2009: Plants that Poison: A New Zealand Guide. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Gray, S.F. 1821: A Natural Arrangement of British Plants . Vol. 2. London.
Linnaeus, C. 1753: Species Plantarum. Impensis Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm.
Mabberley, D.J. 2008: Mabberley's plant book, a portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses. Edition 3. Cambridge University Press.
Mabberley, D.J. 2017: Mabberley's plant book, a portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses. Edition 4. Cambridge University Press.
Steinmann, V.W.; Porter, J.M. 2002: Phylogenetic relationships in Euphorbieae (Euphorbiaceae) based on ITS and ndhF sequence data. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 89: 453–490.
Webster, G.L. 1994: Synopsis of the genera and suprageneric taxa of Euphorbiaceae. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 81: 33–144. [as Chamaesyce Gray]