Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Euphorbia helioscopia
(Retz.) C. E. Hubb., Euphorbiaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: ze qi

English: sun spurge, wolf's-milk

French: euphorbe reveil matin, tithymale

Japanese: todaigusa

Spanish: lecherina, lecheruela, lechetrezna comun, mamona, pichoa, pichoga

Habit:  herb

Description:  "An annual monoecious herb with milky sap throughout; branched taproot up to 80 cm long; stems simple or branched at base, yellowish-green or sometimes purplish, glabrous, erect or ascending 15 to 60 cm tall, bearing terminal flower clusters; leaves alternate, 1 to 3 cm long, 1 to 1.5 cm wide, terminal leaves often in whorls of 5, simple, sessile, serrulate, obovate or rounded at apex, margins entire or finely toothed at apex; inflorescence composed of 5 umbel-like cyathia (cup-like receptacles, each containing a flowering group), subtended by a whorl of 5 leaves, smaller than stem leaves and not as narrow at base; each branch divides into 3 branches of second order and then 2 of third order with terminal flower cluster; involucre urn-shaped, with 4 rounded glands; flowers without petals, unisexual, flowering group with a single, central pistillate flower with a gynoecium: a long stalk with 3 styles and 3-celled ovary that extends beyond involucre after anthesis; surrounded by 10 to 12 simple staminate flowers each consisting of single stamen with small bract at base; fruit a dry, dehiscent schizocarp 4 to 5 mm in diameter with 3 carpels; at maturity carpels open violently; seed obovate to ovate in outline, circular in cross-section, 2 mm long, 1.5 mm wide, dark brown to orange-brown, with surface roughened by raised fine-meshed network; hilum kidney shaped, white and very conspicuous.  This species is recognized by its milky sap throughout, flowers in terminal umbels of branched cymes, each surrounded by a whorl of five leaves, and the sharply reticulate seed surface"  (Holm et al., 1997; p. 353).

"Annual, stems ascending, 0.5-6 dm high; leaves all obovate and very rounded or retuse at the end, finely serrate, smooth or a little hairy, those of the stem cuncate; umbel divided into usually 5 4 rays, then into 3, or at length simply forked; floral leaves narrowed to base; glands orbicular or elliptical, yellow, stalked; capsule smooth and even; seeds with coarse honeycomb-like reticulations" (Fernald, 1970; pp. 967-968).

Habitat/ecology:  Waste places and dry open soil (Fernald, 1970; pp. 967-968). In New Caledonia, "mauvaise herbe peu commune des jardins" (MacKee, 1994; p. 51).  "In Chile this species grows in the following environmental conditions:  Medium altitude up to the timber line; low altitude, interior valleys; coastal mountains, 500-2000 m; coastal areas, 0-500 m.  The plant grows in water or it has its roots within a permanent water course, this corresponds to marshes, bogs, water courses, lake and river shores; humid areas, with almost constant rainfall, short dry periods are possible (generally not longer than 1 month).  Fully exposed to the sun, level areas or slopes facing north; some shadow, some protection against direct sunlight, some shadow from vegetation, filtering about 20-40% of light"  (Chileflora).

Propagation:  Seed

Native range:  Europe, temperate and tropical Asia, northern Africa; naturalized elsewhere (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
Cuevas, Jaime G./Marticorena, Alicia/Cavieres, Lohengrin A. (2004) (p. 535)
Voucher cited: CONC 158065, JF 186
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (p. 553)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
Tassin, Jacques (2005)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 51)
Voucher cited: MacKee 40818
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
New South Wales introduced
invasive
Holm, Leroy/Doll, Jerry/Holm, Eric/Pancho, Jaun/Herberger, James (1997) (p. 351)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Holm, Leroy/Doll, Jerry/Holm, Eric/Pancho, Jaun/Herberger, James (1997) (p. 351)
Chile (continental)
Chile
Chile (Republic of) introduced
invasive
Holm, Leroy/Doll, Jerry/Holm, Eric/Pancho, Jaun/Herberger, James (1997) (p. 351)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) native
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Fields, roadsides, scrub, margins of mixed forests. Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Zhejiang.
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
cultivated
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 180)
Japan
Japan
Japan (country) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
North Korea
North Korea
North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
South Korea
South Korea
South Korea (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 628)
"Common in gardens, waste places and crops, occasional in riverbeds".
Taiwan
Taiwan Island
Taiwan Island native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam (Socialist Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)


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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 9 JAN 2011.