Spotted spurge

Euphorbia maculata

Spotted spurge grows close to the ground, often forming a dense mat. Its dark green leaves, which grow in pairs called “opposites,” are 1/8 to 1/2 inch long and about 1/8 inch wide. Frequently a red spot will mark the leaf halfway down its center vein.
Flowers, fruit, stems, and leaves are hairy. The short stems have a separate stipule—or little scalelike appendage—at their base, although you may need a 10X hand lens to see them. Broken stems and branches secrete a milky, poisonous sap. Although spotted spurge sap is being studied as a cure for various skin cancers, in general, the sap of all members of this genus is an eye and skin irritant.
Spotted spurge produces tiny, pinkish flowers that consist only of stamens and pistils grouped in small, flowerlike cups, called cyathia, in the leaf axils, the area where the leaf joins the stem. The fruit is a three-celled seed capsule that is 1/16 inch or less. Each cell contains one seed that is about 1/25 inch long. The plant's central taproot system is capable of extending more than 24 inches into the soil.

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