Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Euphorbia radians, Sun Spurge

Sun Spurge has white flowers often red or pink tinged. The “flowers” are actually modified into a cyathium and the large “petal” looking attachments are modified leaves. It is notable that this species blooms well before the leaves merge.Euphorbia radians Sun Spurge blooms from Spring through Summer and the flowers bloom before the leaves emerge. Euphorbia radians Sun Spurge is a member of the Euphorbia family and exudes a toxic milky sap. Plants have a thicken tap-root and erect stems. Euphorbia radians Sun Spurge prefers elevations between 2,300 and 8,000 - (700–2500 m) feet in height. Preferred habitats include desert grassland and desert scrub communities, pinyon-juniper woodlands, oak savannas. Euphorbia radians Sun Spurge is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, NM and TX and in the deserts of Sonoran and Chihuahuan, southward to Oaxaca, Mexico. Euphorbia radians

Scientific Name: Euphorbia radians
Common Name: Sun Spurge

Also Called: Spanish (Chichimecapatli, Yamancapatli)

Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge or Euphorbia Family

Synonyms: (Poinsettia radians)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial from a thickened taproot.

Size: 8 to 12 inches or so (5–20 (–30) cm).

Growth Form: Forb/herb; stems erect, few to several, mostly glabrous; thickened taproot.

Leaves: Light green; alternate, leaves glabrous or strigose; leaves sessile or with short petiole, shape variable from linear-lanceolate to ovate or broadly elliptical; margins with a few glandular teeth, strigillose, flat to revolute.

Flower Color: Variable, white or pink or reddish tinged; flowers appear before leaves develop, flowers monecious, "flowers" modified into a cyathium subtended by colored floral leaves (modified bracts) on terminal stems, the inflorescence bearing only reduced bracteal leaves; fruit is a 3-lobed capsule.

Flowering Season: Spring through Summer.

Elevation: 2,300 to 8,000 feet - (700–2500 m).

Habitat Preferences: Desert transitions areas, desert grassland and desert scrub communities, pinyon-juniper woodlands, oak savannas.

Recorded Range: Euphorbia radians is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, NM and TX and in the deserts of Sonoran and Chihuahuan, southward to Oaxaca, Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Euphorbia radians.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are hundreds of species and even more accepted taxa overall for Euphorbia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 2,031 accepted species names and a further 1,322 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 21 species of genus Euphorbia, California has 25 species, Nevada has 6 species, New Mexico has 22 species, Texas has 31 species, Utah has 12 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: The genus Euphorbia is large with more than 2,000 species worldwide. In the southwest there are about 30 species or so. As with many species of Euphorbia, this species releases a milky sap of white latex which is toxic.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Euphorbia eriantha, Beetle Spurge, Euphorbia heterophylla and Mexican Fireplant, Euphorbia incisa.

The genus Euphorbia is named for a Greek physician, Euphorbus of Juba II, King of Mauretania. The species epithet "radians" is derived from Latin meaning "that radiates abroad" and also "shining, beaming".


No information available.

Date Profile Completed: 06/22/2019
Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 06/19/2019)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 06/18/2019).
Heike Vibrans (ed.), Hanan, Ana María, Mondragon Pichardo, Alipi and Juana, July 20, 2009., Conabio, Malezas de México, Euphorbiaceae, Euphorbia radians, (accessed 06/22/2019).
Berry, Paul E., Riina, Berry Ricarda, Peirson, Jess A., Yang, Ya, Steinmann, Victor W., Geltman, Dmitry V., Morawetz Jeffery J. Cacho, FNA | Family List | FNA | Vol. 12 | Euphorbiaceae | 139. Euphorbia radians Bentham, Pl. Hartw. 8. 1839.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
"Euphorbia radians." Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia . 20 Jun 2019, 18:18 UTC. Jun 22 2019, 15:56
< >.
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 06/22/2019).