Euphorbia geyeri Engelm.

Geyer's Spurge


CC = 10
CW = 5
MOC = 4
SRank = S1

© SRTurner

Family - Euphorbiaceae

Habit - Taprooted annual forb, forming mats.

Stem - Prostrate, to 25 cm, branched, loosely mat-forming, tan to yellowish green to pinkish, glabrous.

Leaves - Leaves opposite, sessile or nearly so, to 12 mm, oblong, rounded and slightly asymmetric at base, entire, glabrous. Stipules small scales 0.7-1.5 mm long, sometimes fused toward the base, mostly deeply and irregularly fringed or lobed.

Euphorbia_geyeri_leaves.jpg Stem and leaves.

© SRTurner

Euphorbia_geyeri_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Euphorbia_geyeri_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Euphorbia_geyeri_stipules.jpg Stipules, free and not fused across node.

© SRTurner

Euphorbia_geyeri_stipules2.jpg Stipules.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Axillary, solitary cyathia.

Euphorbia_geyeri_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescences.

© SRTurner

Flower - Involucre to 1.5 mm, glabrous. Marginal glands 0.2-0.6 mm, greenish, with inconspicuous petalloid appendage, this white or pinkish. Ovaries glabrous, the styles 0.2-0.5 mm long, each divided 1/3-1/2 of the way from the tip into 2 slender lobes.

Euphorbia_geyeri_flower.jpg Cyathia.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Capsules 1.5-2.0 mm long, 3-lobed, 3-seeded, glabrous. Seeds 1.3-1.6 mm long, oblong-ovate to ovate in outline, bluntly angular in cross-section, slightly convex at the base, the surface smooth, white to reddish brown, lacking a caruncle.

Euphorbia_geyeri_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Euphorbia_geyeri_fruits2.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Sand prairies.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - Other species of Euphorbia within the Chamaesyce group, most notably E. serpens.

Other info. - This small and inconspicuous species is rare in Missouri, and in fact is state listed as S1 (critically imperiled) in the state. Elsewhere its range extends in scattered form across the U.S. Plains region. It is found only in areas of deep sand which support few other species to compete for space and nutrients. The plant is recognized by its prostrate habit, glabrous stems and leaves, and free stipules at each node. The stipules are hairlike and not fused across the node, which differentiates this species from its close lookalike, E. serpens. Its leaves are also slightly larger and more elongated than those of E. serpens. As in other members of the genus, the plant's flowers are minute and clustered into highly modified units called cyathia.

Another name for this species is Chamaesyce geyeri (Engelm.) Small. It has also been divided into varieties, with Missouri's plants referable to Euphorbia serpens var. geyeri. Uncommon plants from New Mexico and Texas, which lack petaloid appendages, have been called var. wheeleriana.

Photographs taken near Blodgett, Scott County, MO, 8-28-2015, and near Loda Lake, Newaygo County, MI, 8-29-2020 and 8-11-2022 (SRTurner).