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a family of dicotyledonous plants. They are trees, shrubs, and herbs that often contain a milky juice. The leaves are alternate or opposite (rarely verticillate), simple (entire or lobed) or compound, and generally stipulate. The unisexual flowers (the plants are monoecious or dioecious) are in spicate or capitate inflorescences or in cyathia that resemble separate flowers; the flowers are sometimes solitary. The gynoecium consists of three or four connate carpels; less frequently it has one or many (up to 25). The ovary is superior and has three or four cells, each having one or two ovules. The fruit is usually a capsule that opens into nidi when it matures; these separate and scatter the seeds. Sometimes the fruits are juicy drupes or, less frequently, berries.
The family Euphorbiaceae has approximately 3,000 genera, with more than 7,000 species, distributed primarily in tropical and subtropical regions. Many herbaceous species also grow in temperate and moderately cold zones (except the arctic and antarctic). The family has many useful plants, the most significant being several plants of the genera Hevea, Manihot, Ricinus, and Aleurites. A number of species of Baccaurea, Phyllanthus, and Antidesma are cultivated for their edible fruit. Species of Euphorbia, Codiaeum, Jatropha, and other genera are used medicinally. Some species of Euphorbia, Jatropha, and Phyllanthus are cultivated in the tropics and subtropics as ornamentals.
REFERENCESFlora SSSR, vol. 14. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Takhtadzhian, A. L. Sistema i filogeniia tsvetkovykh rastenii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
A. L. TAKHTADZHIAN