Euphorbia spathulata (Warty Spurge)

Plant Info
Also known as: Prairie Spurge, Blunt-leaved Spurge, Reticulate-seeded Spurge
Family:Euphorbiaceae (Spurge)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:sun; open prairies, outcrops, barrens, rocky hills
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:6 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct

[photo of flowers] Short-stalked, petal-less flowers are single at the tips of branching stems and the upper leaf axils, with separate male and female flowers together in a structure called a cyathium. The female flower is at the tip with 3 spreading, split styles on top of a 3-sectioned round ovary covered in warty bumps. At the base of the ovary are 5 to 8 minute male flowers with yellow stamens.

[photo of bracts] Surrounding the short stalk is a bell-shaped set of fused bracts (involucre) less than 1.5 mm long, with 4 or 5 yellowish, oblong glands around the tip edge. All flower parts are hairless.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of lower leaves] Leaves are up to 1 inch long, finely toothed at least on the tip half, blunt to pointed at the tip, hairless, stalkless and typically yellowish-green. Lower stem leaves are alternate, generally spatula-shaped.

[photo of upper leaves] Leaves in the flowering branches are somewhat smaller and more oblong in shape. Flowering branches are forked with a whorl of 3 leaves at the base of the first fork and opposite leaves at the base of other forks. Stems are single and hairless.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] The warty ovary expands to a 3-lobed, rounded capsule about 1/8 inch diameter. Inside are reddish-brown seeds up to 2 mm long, the surface textured with a fine network of veins.


Warty Spurge is aptly named, and its warty fruits are unique to the Euphorbia species present in Minnesota.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds

More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Renville County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.