Nodding Spurge, Eyebane, Eyebane Sandmat
Synonyms of Euphorbia nutans (15) (Updated on 1-30-22 from Plants of the World Online): Chamaesyce lansingii Millsp., Chamaesyce nutans (Lag.) Small, Chamaesyce preslii (Guss.) Arthur, Euphorbia androsaemifolia C.Presl, Euphorbia gibraltarica Wolley-Dod, Euphorbia hypericifolia var. communis Engelm., Euphorbia nutans var. glaberrima Thell., Euphorbia potosina var. lamasis Carvajal & Lomelí, Euphorbia preslii Guss., Euphorbia preslii var. andicola Danguy & Cherm., Euphorbia preslii var. glaberrima Boiss., Euphorbia pseudonutans Thell., Euphorbia refracta Lowe, Euphorbia trinervis Bertol., Tithymalus nutans (Lag.) Samp.
Euphorbia nutans Lag. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Euphorbia. It was named and described as such by Mariano Lagasca y Segura in Genera et Species Plantarum in 1816.
The genus, Euphorbia L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first edition of the first volume of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 1-30-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by kew lists 2,028 species in the Euphorbia genus. It is a member of the plant family Euphorbiaceae with 227 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO. The number of species in the genus fluctuates often.
The above distribution map for Euphorbia nutans is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database for North America (above Mexico) is similar but doesn’t include Washington.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I found a few colonies of Euphorbia nutans (Nodding Spurge) along the edge of the south hayfield on my farm on September 30 in 2021. It was the first time I photographed and identified this species. I never know what I will find and it is always good to identify new species. Common names include Nodding Spurge, Eyebane, Eyebane Sandmat, and probably others.
Euphorbia nutans is a common wildflower/weed that can be found throughout Missouri. Its native range is from the central U.S. eastward, up into Canada, through Mexico, and into South America. It has also been introduced to California, Washington, and Wyoming in the U.S. and several other countries.
As with other members in the genus, they have weird flowers and the stems and leaves excrete a milky sap that is poison. They can be distinguished from other species of Euphorbia species by their “nodding” stems…
The stems of Euphorbia nutans are round, tan, red, or pinkish-red in color. The stems have fine hairs (pubescent) on newer growth but the rest of the stems can be (usually) smooth. Stems are said to be “ascending” with multiple branches that droop at the tips.
The leaves grow in an opposite manner along the stems, have short petioles (leaf stems), or can be sessile (no petioles). The leaves are oblong, oblong-lanceolate with blunt or rounded tips, up to 2” long x 3/4” wide. Leaf margins are variably serrated, either all along the margins or just partially, or maybe more toothed on one side than the other. Young leaves are hairy (pubescent) but become hairless (glabrous) with age. Leaves are typically light green, but may have a reddish blotch in the middle. There are also sometimes leaf-like stipules emerging from the axil of leaves at the nodes or they may appear as “scales” opposite the leaf petioles. Sometimes there are stipules and scales…
Explaining the flowers can be a bit tricky on many species of Euphorbia and I really don’t know where to begin. I need to get better close-ups so I can explain them a little better. Since I wrote these descriptions on January 29 (winter project) I can’t very well go to the plants and take more photos…
First of all, the flowers appear at the tip of the stems or auxiliary branches. There are usually a set of smaller leaves usually called “leafy bracts” that surround the inflorescences (flower clusters). A cup-like involucre called a “cyathia” surrounds the flowers.
The rim of the involucre is shallowly 4-lobed with 4 glands. The cyathium contain 5 to 28 staminate (male) flowers which have no petals or sepals. The anthers of the male flowers are basically unnoticeable. The pistillate (female flowers)… Hmmm… OK, the round, 3-parted ovary, which is the fruit, kind of sits in the center of the flower on a short petiole. On top of the ovary are the pistillate (female) flowers with a clump of stamens…
I took more photos on October 22 in 2021. The color had changed…
The ovaries, or fruit, had turned a reddish color, and the female flowers seemed to be very persistent about staying on.
This species likely can be found in just about any soil type but seems to have a preference to poor and sandy soil. They predominantly grow in full sun and are very drought tolerant. Euphorbia nutans can be found in pastures, hayfields, upland prairies, swampy areas, along forests, openings in woodland, along railroads and roadsides, ETC.
Sometimes I find a plant one year and can’t find them the next. I hope I can find these in 2022 so I can get more photos (especially close-ups of the flowers…
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂