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A family of dicotyledonous plants in the order Euphorbiales characterized by dehiscent fruit having more than one seed and by epitropous ovules.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


Flora SSSR, vol. 14. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
Takhtadzhian, A. L. Sistema i filogeniia tsvetkovykh rastenii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
At the very least, it is somewhat toxic and irritates skin, as does the sap of many spurge family plants.
Africanized bees took over pollination of two plant families that had been important food sources for native bees: the cashew family and the spurge family.
(1) ([section]) Erythroxylaceae (Coca Family) Erythroxylum confusum * Britton (3) Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family) Cnidoscolus chayamense (1) = Jatropha integerrima (Jacq.) Fabaceae (Pea Family) Pithecellobium keyense * (Britton ex.
The euphorb or spurge family includes the crown of thorns, the candelabra cactus, the mother-of-millions and the poinsettia.