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Sonoran Desert Euphorbia

Many species of herbs, shrubs and small trees. Sap often milky or resinous. Leaves typically dark green and often red after cold snaps. Complex flower structure; frequently without true petals and with numerous small flowers grouped in an involucre.

New Mexico Silverbush

Argythamnia neomexicana

Lance-leaf Ditaxis

Argythamnia lanceolata

Photo by Michael Plagens

Herbaceous euphorb with clear sap. Grows in seasonally damp soil along washes and at roadsides. Locally common at various locations in Sonoran Desert. Small male and female flowers are greenish and on the same plant. Detailed Description

Pen & Ink Illustration © by Michael Plagens

Frequent, but rather obscure sub-shrub of rocky slopes across the Sonoran Desert. Leaves are silvery as are the three-carpelled fruit capsules. Rarely taller than 50 cm tall.   Detailed Description

Saw-toothed Ditaxis

Argythamnia serrata


Bernardia myricifolia (B. incana)

Pen & Ink Illustration © by Michael Plagens

Stiff, sharply serrated leaves. Restricted to Lower Colorado Desert as near Yuma. Sap not milky.    Detailed Description

Pen & Ink Illustration © by Michael Plagens

This woody shrub is fairly common if the naturalist knows where to look: Shady slopes near the summit of low desert mountains and ridges. Small leaves are crenulate. Sap is not milky/resinous. Capsules are three lobed.   Detailed Description

Sonoran Silverbush

Argythamnia brandegeei

Cliff Spurge

Euphorbia misera

Photo of Sonoran Silverbush © by Michael Plagens

Uncommon spindly shrub restricted to far southwest Yuma County, Az & n.w. Mex. Whitish branches with dark green leaves.    Detailed Description

Euphorbia misera photo © by Michael Plagens

Not in Arizona. A large shrubby spurge with dark green leaves and thick reddish stems. Coastal Sonora in Mexico and in southern California. Detailed Description

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Limber Bush

Jatropha cardiophylla

Mexican Jumping Bean

Sebastiania bilocularis

Photo of Jatropha cardiophylla © by Michael Plagens

Woody shrub leafless much of year until summer rains flush shiny, heart-shaped leaves. Reddish stems long and flexible. Capsule, like other euphorbs, is three parted.    Detailed Description

Photo © by Michael Plagens

In Arizona this large woody shrub is likely to be found only near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Leaves dark green or red-orange. Capsules are three lobed. Detailed Description

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Hall's shrubby-spurge

Tetracoccus hallii


Jatropha cuneata

Scanned image © by Michael Plagens

Far western Sonoran Desert. Small spatulate leaves in clusters. Woody shrub with sparse, intricate branches. Detailed Description

Pen & Ink © Illustration by Michael Plagens

The best place to find this wonderful plant is at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona. Leafless after drought or frosty weather. Irritating, resinous sap oozes from injuries. Capsules are three lobed.   Detailed Description

Three-seeded Mercury

Acalypha californica


Ricinus communis

Watercolor Illustration © by Michael Plagens

Restricted to the warmer, mostly frost-free areas as near Yuma and at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Sap not milky. Leaf margins crenulate.    Detailed Description

Ricinus communis photo © by Michael Plagens

Cultivated plant frequent in gardens, but escaping into riverine habitats in the lower sonoran Desert. Large five-seven pointed leaves. Clusters of spiny fruits. Detailed Description

More Euphorbs on Page 2

Sonoran Desert Places


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010