Red-gland Sandmat

Euphorbia (Chamaesyce) melanadenia

Euphorbia melanadenia photo by Michael Plagens

New River Mountains, Maricopa Co., Arizona, Apr. 2018.

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RANGE: There are over 40 kinds of Euphorbia that can be found in Arizona - most look very similar when seen growing low as prostrate mats. Only by close inspection with a hand lens can the varieties be distinguished - and their beauty be appreciated. This species tends to occur at the upper elevation range of the Sonoran Desert.

ANNUAL/PERENNIAL: Generally grows as a perennial, prostrate on the soil but forming a slight mound of dense foliage and flowers.

LEAVES: The oblong leaves are set with short hairs as are the new stems. The leaves are opposite on the stems and the margins are entire.

FLOWERS: What at first appears to be a lovely little flower barely a millimeter in diameter is actually an involucre (cup-like structure) enclosing several male staminate flowers and one pistillate female flower. The surrounding glands and the lobed appendages form the rim of the vase-shaped involucre. Flowers can appear almost any time of year if moisture is favorable. Very similar to White-margin sand-mat; the easiest distinction is the hairiness of the leaves, stems and seed capsules.

UNARMED: No thorns, but the milky sap can be a skin/eye irritant.

FRUIT: Very small, setose capsules, about 2 mm, are three-parted and each contains usually three seeds. These seeds inside require high magnification to see their wrinkled surface.

Euphorbia melanadenia photo by Michael Plagens

Euphorbiaceae -- Spurge Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 5 May 2018.