Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Euphorbia tannensis subsp. eremophila (A.Cunn.) D.C.Hassall

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Female flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruit. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Hassall, D.C. (1977) Australian Journal of Botany 25: 439.

Common name

Desert Spurge


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub 1-1.5 m tall but also flowers when smaller.


Stems, petioles and leaves produce copious amounts of white exudate when cut or broken. Leaf blades linear, about 2.5-5.5 x 0.2-0.3 cm, margin toothed, more prominently towards the apex. Petioles about 0.2-0.4 cm long, channelled on the upper surface. Lateral veins difficult to distinguish.


Tepals small, interspersed with four large glands. Stamens +/- arranged in 3 or 4 whorls of five with the innermost whorl maturing first. Anthers interspersed with numerous plumose hairs, filaments jointed. Ovary borne on a stalk about as long as the perianth. Style branches three, each with a bilobed stigma.


Fruits 3-lobed, about 4-5 mm long, stigmas persistent at the apex. Seeds 2.5-4 mm long, testa rough, covered with a thin white or translucent aril. Embryo about 2-2.5 mm long, cotyledons about as long as the radicle but much wider.


Cotyledons oblong, about 9-10 x 3 mm, bluish-green in colour. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves long and narrow, leaf blade about 35-37 x 4 mm. Stem green, entire seedling glabrous. Seed germination time 631 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia and widespread, occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-western New South Wales. Altitudinal range in northern Australia from 300-700 m. Commonly grows in open forest but also found in vine thickets and monsoon forest.

Natural History & Notes

This species may be poisonous.

Euphorbia tannensis var. eremophila (Cunn.) D.C.Hassall, Australian Journal of Botany 25: 439(1977). Euphorbia eremophloia A.Cunn., Tropical Australia : 348(1848), Type: Western Australia, Dirk Hartogs Island, 1822, A. Cunningham 222; holo: K.
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