Sprengel, Fl. Hal. Mant. 42 (1807) subsp. eremophila (Cunn. ex Hook.)Hassall, Aust. J. Bot. 25:439 (1977).
Synonymy: E. eremophila Cunn. ex Hook. in T.L. Mitchell, J. Trop. Austral. 348 (1848); E. tannensis Sprengel subsp. eremophila (Cunn. ex Hook.)Hassall var. eremophila (Cunn. ex Hook.)Hassall, Aust. J. Bot. 25:439 (1977); Croton clutioides Forster f., Fl. Ins. Aust. Prod. 92 (1786), nom. nud.; E. clutioides (Forster f.)C. Gardner, J. R. Soc. W. Aust. 17:181 (1942), nom. illegit.; E. finlaysonii J. Black, Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 59:258 (1935); E. tannensis Sprengel subsp. eremophila (Cunn. ex Hook.)Hassall vat. finlaysonii (J. Black)Hassall, Aust. J. Bot. 25:441 (1977).
Common name: Desert spurge, caustic bush (or plant), spurgewort, bottletree caustic.
Erect glabrous annual to perennial herb, usually 5-50 cm high (in S.Aust.), sometimes to 1 rarely 1.5 m tall, sometimes shrubby, arising from a tap root, branching at some distance above the ground, becoming woody on lower parts of the branches and stem, green, glaucous, brownish on woody parts; leaves alternate below, almost opposite in the upper parts, with petioles up to 4 mm long; blades linear to narrowly ovate, 5-70 x 1-7 mm, obtuse to acute, tapering to the petiole or cuneate, entire or serrulate; stipules subulate, c. 0.2 mm long.
Cyathia solitary, terminal or axillary on peduncles to 1 mm long; involucre campanulate, c. 1.5 mm long, intervening lobes bent inwards; glands more or less elliptic, c. 1 mm long, yellow to red, margins entire or crenulate to palmatifid (often varying on the same specimen); male flowers usually with 4 glabrous stamens in 5 bundles; bracteoles plumose; styles 3, erect, each cleft to the middle into 2 filiform recurved stigmas.
Capsule erect, ovoid-globose, 3-lobed, 4-5 mm long and wide, keeled on the back, smooth, green; seed quadrangular-oblong, 2.5-3 x 1.7-2 mm, smooth to undulate or somewhat wrinkled to finely or roughly granular, sometimes white-crusted, the ventral raphae keeled, grey to brown; caruncle hat-shaped, c. 1.5 mm across, more or less raised above the seed, yellow-brown, persistent.
||Euphorbia tannensis subsp. eremophila twigs, cyathium, fruit and seed.
Image source: fig 403a in Jessop J.P. & Toelken H.R. (Ed.) 1986. Flora of South Australia (4th edn).|
Hurst (1942) Poison plants of New South Wales, p. 228; whittel (1958) Weeds (N.S.W. Dept Agric.), fig. 119; Cunningham et al. (1982) Plants of western New South Wales, p. 456 as E. eremophila.
Variable, on heavy clay soils of river and floodplains or skeletal hillside soils, from open grass plains to mulga communities.
All States except Tas.
Flowering time: most of the year.
SA Distribution Map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of South Australia
Plants eventually appearing leafless except often only for a couple of terminal leaves at each cyathia. Containing copious milky sap. A reported case of poisoning in horses (Chippendale & Murray (1963) Northern Territory administration animal industry branch extension article no. 2, edn 2.)
Not yet available