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Euphorbia hirta

Family

Euphorbiaceae

Botanical Name

Euphorbia hirta L.

Linnaeus, C. (1753) Species Plantarum 1: 454. Type: Habitat in India.

Common name

Asthma weed

Stem

Stems clothed in hairs. Stems produce a milky exudate when cut or broken.

Leaves

Leaf blades about 25-50 x 11-26 mm, petioles about 2-4 mm long. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade and the petioles clothed in hairs. Lateral veins 2-4 on each side of the midrib. Stipules linear, about 1.5-2 mm long, hairy.

Flowers

Flowers in clusters which are arranged in heads. Clusters consist of one female flower together with 1-7 male flowers. Each cluster surrounded by an involucre of 4 glands. Male flowers: Male flowers consist of a single anther and bract which is fimbriate at the apex. Female flowers: Ovary green, about 1.1 mm diam., clothed in hairs. Styles 3 or absent. Stigmas 6.

Fruit

Fruits 3-lobed, about 1 x 1.1-1.2 mm, clothed in hairs.Seeds about 0.7-0.8 mm diam.

Seedlings

Embryo about 0.5-0.6 mm long, the cotyledons much wider than the radicle.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CQ and NSW. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 900 m. Grows in margins of rainforest, Eucalypt forest, notophyll vine forest, various types of woodland and in wooded grassland. From the tropical and subtropical regions in both hemispheres.

Natural History

Common weed of disturbed areas.

An infusion is used as a cure for asthma and bronchitis (Webb 1948).

WA

X

NT

X

CYP

X

NEQ

X

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)

X

RFK Code

4112