Monday, June 14, 2010


Euphorbia is a genus of plants belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae. Consisting of about 2160 species, Euphorbia is one of the most diverse genera in the plant kingdom, maybe exceeded only by Senecio . Members of the family and genus are sometimes referred to as Spurges. Euphorbia antiquorum and Euphorbia serrata are the type species for the genus Euphorbia, it was described by Linnaeus in 1753 in Species Plantarum. The genus is primarily found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and the Americas, but also in temperate zones worldwide. Succulent species originate mostly from Africa, the Americas and Madagascar. There exists a wide range of insular species: on the Hawaiian Islands where spurges are collectively known as "akoko", and on the Canary Islands as "tabaibas".

The common name "spurge" derives from the Middle English/Old French espurge ("to purge"), due to the use of the plant's sap as a purgative.

The botanical name Euphorbia derives from Euphorbus, the Greek physician of king Juba II of Numidia (52-50 BC–23 AD). He is reported to have used a certain plant, possibly Resin Spurge (E. resinifera), as a herbal remedy when the king suffered from a swollen belly[verification needed]. Carolus Linnaeus assigned the name Euphorbia to the entire genus in the physician's honor.

Juba II himself was a noted patron of the arts and sciences and sponsored several expeditions and biological research. He also was a notable author, writing several scholarly and popular scientific works such as treatises on natural history or a best-selling traveller's guide to Arabia. Euphorbia regisjubae (King Juba's Euphorbia) was named to honor the king's contributions to natural history and his role in bringing the genus to notice.

See Also: flora, online flowers, flower arrangement

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