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Electronic Flora of South Australia species Fact Sheet

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Euphorbia terracina

Citation: L., Sp. Pl. edn 2:654 (1762).

Synonymy: Not Applicable

Common name: False caper, terracina spurge.

Glabrous erect or ascending perennial, 20-80 cm tall, rigid, branched from the base and middle, green to reddish, woody at the base, containing a bitter milky juice; rays of pseudo-umbel 3-5, each ray up to 5 times dichotomous; each fork and terminal cyathium subtended by a pair of leaves; lower cauline leaves alternate, sessile, not crowded, linear-lanceolate to elliptic-oblong, 15-40 x 4-8 mm, mostly obtuse, mucronate, sometimes truncate-retuse, bright-green, entire or finely serrulate distally; upper cauline leaves acute; ray-leaves resembling the upper cauline but longer, up to 55 x 15 mm; raylet-leaves deflexed, ovate-triangular to semi-orbicular, 13-30 mm long and wide.

Cyathia on peduncles to 1 mm long, 1 or 2 in uppermost axils or 2 or 3 terminally; involucre campanulate, c. 2 mm long and wide, pale-green, with distinct vertical veins (5 or more), lobes between glands ovate, fimbriate; glands lunate to reniform, to 1.5 mm long, entire to slightly undulate, greenish-yellow, with 2 long slender white horns; male flowers 3 or 4 in each fascicle, always only 2 stamens protruding from the involucre by their elongated filament, locules obovate, to 0.5 mm long, dorso-ventrally compressed, basi-fixed, opening by terminal pores; styles cleft to the middle, filiform, capitulate, to 1.5 mm long.

Capsule pendulous on a slender pedicel to 3 mm long, depressed-globular, 3-lobed, 3-5 x 4-5 mm, keeled on the back, smooth, green; seed globose-ovoid, c. 2 x 1.8 mm, with a ventral raphe, smooth, grey, finely mottled brown or black or not; caruncle distinctly peltate, ovoid-carinate, to 1.5 mm long, always white.

Published illustration: Fiori & Paoletti (1901) Iconographia florae Italicae, fig. 2602; Zohary (1972) Flora Palaestina 2:pl. 420; Cunningham et al. (1982) Plants of western New South Wales, p. 459.

Distribution:  S.Aust.: NU, FR, EP, NL, MU, YP, SL, KI, SE.   W.Aust.; Qld; N.S.W.; Vic.   A Mediterranean species widespread here along roadsides, cleared paddocks, gardens in red earth to sandy places near the coast.

Conservation status: naturalised

Flowering time: July — Oct.

SA Distribution Map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of South Australia

Biology: It has been suspected of cyanide poisoning stock, causing sudden deaths (Hungerford (1962) Diseases of livestock). The cauline leaves may eventually be shed leaving only the raylet-leaves present (in S.Aust.).

Author: Not yet available

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