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[[{{{domain}}}]] > [[{{{superregnum}}}]] > Plantae > [[{{{subregnum}}}]] > [[{{{superdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{superphylum}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{phylum}}}]] > [[{{{subdivisio}}}]] > [[{{{subphylum}}}]] > [[{{{infraphylum}}}]] > [[{{{microphylum}}}]] > [[{{{nanophylum}}}]] > [[{{{superclassis}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subclassis}}}]] > [[{{{infraclassis}}}]] > [[{{{superordo}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subordo}}}]] > [[{{{infraordo}}}]] > [[{{{superfamilia}}}]] > [[]] > [[{{{subfamilia}}}]] > [[{{{supertribus}}}]] > [[{{{tribus}}}]] > [[{{{subtribus}}}]] > [[{{{genus}}}]] {{{subgenus}}} {{{sectio}}} {{{series}}} {{{species}}} {{{subspecies}}} var. {{{cultivar}}}

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Euphorbiaceae (from the genus Euphorbia, named in honor of Euphorbus, physician to King Juba). Spurge Family. Fig. 32. Herbs, shrubs or trees, of greatly varying habit, sometimes fleshy and cactus-like, often with milky juice: leaves mostly alternate: flowers monoecious or dioecious, regular or irregular; both calyx and corolla present, or the latter absent, or both absent, or both much reduced, valvate or imbricated; the parts free, rarely united; intrastaminal disk usually present in the staminate flowers, often changed to glands; stamens as many as the sepals, or twice as many, or reduced to 1, separate or monadelphous; hypogynous disk in the pistillate flowers annular or cup-shaped or in the form of glands; ovary superior, usually 3-celled, rarely 1-, 2-, or 4-celled; style and stigma various; ovules 1-2 in each cavity, side by side, suspended, anatropous; micropyle external, covered with a caruncle: fruit splitting into three portions, leaving a central column, rarely indehiscent and berry-like, or drupaceous; seeds albuminous.

The 208 genera and about 4,000 species are widely distributed, mainly in the tropics, but extend into temperate regions. The largest genera are Euphorbia with about 700 species, Croton with 500-600 species, and Phyllanthus with 400 species. The family is related to the Geraniales, as shown by the fruit. The only constant characters of this great polymorphic family are the collateral anatropous ovules with micropyle external, the caruncle, the usually persistent axis of the fruit, and the albuminous seeds. In Euphorbia, some sessile staminate flowers and a pedicelled pistillate flower are inclosed in a common involucre which bears various horn-like, or gland-like, or petaloid appendages. The variation in the inflorescence and floral structure throughout the family is very intricate.

The family is of great economic importance. Only the most important plants can be mentioned here. The following are used in medicine: The juice of Euphorbia Esula, E. Cyparissias, E. Lathyris, E. helioscopia, and others, is purgative, as is also that of Mercurialis. Croton Tiglium yields the purgative croton oil. Ricinus communis yields castor oil. Jatropha Curcas (physic nut) is purgative. Euphorbia Hyberna, Jatropha officinalis, Croton, and Stillingia sylvatica (queen's root) are used for syphilis. Euphorbia corollata and E. Ipecacuanhae are emetic. E. thymifolia is used as a vermifuge in India. Croton Eluteria yields cascarilla bark, a tonic. The hairs of the capsule of Mallotus philippinensis are in the trade as kamala. The juice of E. cotinifolia is used by the Caribbeans to poison arrows; that of Excoecaria Agallocha (blinding tree) is so acrid as to blind the eye into which it may chance to fall. The juice of E. balsamifera, of the Canaries, is cooked and eaten as jelly. The seeds of Aleurites triloba are called “almonds,” and eaten; as are also those of Conceveiba guyanensis. The fruit of E. disticha is edible. E. Emblica has fleshy, sweet fruit. The most useful as food are the tuberous roots of the sweet manioc (Manihot palmata var. Aipii), eaten cooked or raw; and of the bitter manioc (M. utilissima), which is poisonous when raw, but when cooked is very widely used for food in the tropics. This root is the source of cassava bread, and tapioca. Phosphorescent juice is obtained from E. phosphorea of Brazil. The fruit of Hura crepitans (sand-box) opens with a report like a pistol. It is cooked in oil to prevent dehiscence, and used as a sandbox. India rubber is obtained from the juice of Hevea guyanensis, and other species. Omphalea triandra yields a blackening juice used as ink. Soap is made from the seminal oil of Jatropha Curcas. Oil from the seeds of Aleurites cordata (Japanese oil tree) is used for lighting. Turnsole (Crozophora tinctoria), of the Mediterranean, yields a dye used to color Dutch cheese. Other Euphorbiaceae yield dyes. Sapium sebiferum (Chinese tallow tree) yields a fat used for burning, and other purposes.

Twenty to 30 genera are in cultivation in N. America for various purposes. Among these are: Acalypha, ornamental; Aleurites (Candlenut, Candleberry Tree), California; Codiaeum (Croton), ornamental; Euphorbia (Spurge, Snow-on-the-Mountain, Scarlet Plume, Poinsettia, Mexican Fire Plant, Hypocrite Plant, Painted Leaf, Fire-on-the-Mountain, Crown of Thorns, Medusa's Head, Caper Spurge, Mole Plant), greenhouse, garden, ornamental; Hevea (South American Rubber Tree), botanical gardens and Florida; Jatropha (French Physic Nut), South; Manihot (Ceara Rubber Tree. Cassava, Manioc Plant), South, food and ornamental; Pedilanthus (Bird Cactus, Jew Bush), greenhouse; Phyllanthus (Snow-bush, Emblic Myrobolan, Otaheite Gooseberry), greenhouse, garden; Putranjiva (Indian Amulet Plant), South; Ricinus (Castor-Oil Plant, Palma Christi), garden, ornamental; Stillingia (Queen's Root, Queen's Delight); Sapium (Tallow Tree), South.


The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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