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Euphorbiaceae – Characters , formula , floral diagram & Economic Importance



General characters


  • Habit: Mostly annual or occasionally perennial herbs, shrubs or tree. Mostly plants of this angiospermic family are xerophytic in nature; presence of milky juice.

  • Roots: Tap root or  adventitious roots (plants arise from root).

  • Stem: Herbaceous or woody, fleshy, spiny, Brown in color

  • Leaves: Petiolate or sessile, simple, alternate, Sometimes leaves are reduced to scales or spines, unicostate recticulate.

  • Inflorescence: Mostly racemose or occasionally cymose; often a cyathium, cyathium has single naked female flower in the mid. It is surrounded by 5 bracts. In the axil of each flower there are appearance of male flowers. The cyathium has one female flower and five male flowers.

  • Flower: Uni-sexual, incomplete, regular, actinomorphic (cut from any axis), bracteate, pedicillate.

  • Perianth: Five perianth leaves; free; sometimes in some plants perianth is completely absent.

  • Stamens: Free five stamens.

  • Carpel: Superior ovary, Tricarpillary, Axile placentation.

  • Fruits: Rarely a capsule, Shizocarpic fruit regma.

  • Seed: Endospermic.

  • Kingdom: Plantae.

  • Order‎: ‎Malpighiales.

  • Family: Euphorbiaceae

Floral formula and floral diagram of Euphorbiaceae


Economic importance of Euphorbiaceae


  • Ornamental Plants: The plants of this family have beautiful and attractive colors. So they are commonly used as ornamental plants. For example Euphorbia splendens, Euphorbia pulcherrima, castor bean.

  • Dyes: Chrozophora gives dye.

  • Boxwood: Boxwood is obtained from Buxus species. It is the best wood for wood engraving.

  • Rubber: Many species of this family gives common rubber in their latex.

  • Medicinal use: The fruits of many plants of this family are used as medicines.

  • Poisons: The milky juice of many plants of this family like Manihot has deadly poisons. Some are very very harmful to the stomach. Some can cause blindness of eyes. Therefore, these poisons are used for murder and suicides. These poisons are also used to kill some insects.

  • Purgative: Corton oil and castor oil are used as purgatives.

  • Oils: Oils are obtained from seeds of many plants of this family. These oils are used in paints.

  • Source of food: Manihot plant gives starchy food from its tuberous roots.

Distribution pattern

This family is the largest angiospermic family. This angiospermic family has a worldwide distribution. More than half of its members are xerophytes. They are found in deserts and tropical areas.

Common species

  • Rincinus communis.

  • Phyllanthus emblica.

  • Euphorbia royleana.

  • Euphorbia pilulifera.

  • Euphorbia helioscopia generally known as spurge.

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