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For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle
608-267-9788

Wood Spurge (Euphorbia commutata)

Life history

Species overview

Wood Spurge (Euphorbia commutata), , is found on only one site: a steep wooded hillside above the Rock River. Blooming occurs early May through early June; fruiting occurs early June through early July. The optimal identification period for this species is early May through early June.

Synonyms: Euphorbia commutata var. erecta, Galarhoeus commutatus, G. commutatus var. erectus, Tithymalus commutatus

Identification

  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from other Euphorbia species that lack petal-like appendages by its cyathium, which has horned glands.
  • Flower characteristics: Inflorescence an umbel with 3 stalks on primary umbel; flowers small, greenish, without petals or sepals.
  • Fruit characteristics: Smooth, 3 mm; seeds pale grey, 1.5 to 2 mm, deeply and uniformly pitted on both faces.
  • Leaf characteristics: Numerous cauline leaves, oblanceolate to obovate, or the upper oval to ovate, commonly sessile; leaves subtending the umbel broadly elliptic to ovate or subcordate, those of the umbel broadly triangular to kidney-shaped, tending to be connate.

Phenology

  • Blooming phenology: early May through early June
  • Fruiting phenology: early June through early July
  • Optimum time to identify: early May through early June

Other

  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Annual/perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Not recorded for Wisconsin specimens.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

Wood Spurge (Euphorbia commutata) is on the "watch list." Watch list species have experienced, or are believed to have experienced, a statewide or range wide decline, but they are not currently tracked in the Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) database. The watch list includes newly discovered species for which origin and rarity need to be determined, certain animals designated as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan, and species that were tracked in the past but proved more abundant, widespread or less vulnerable than previously thought. Although watch list species are not actively tracked by NHI, occurrences documented during surveys are often stored by NHI, as these species could be tracked in the future if there is further evidence of their decline.


Summary Information
State Statusnone
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankSH
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIW

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on only one site: a steep wooded hillside above the Rock River.
  • Soils: Moist soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Wood Spurge. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Wood Spurge. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Wood Spurge (Euphorbia commutata) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or NHI Botanist for specific recommendations for your site.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.

Photos


Wood Spurge  Photo.

Specimen scanned by the Wisconsin Herbarium, Madison, WI.

Scanned specimen courtesy of Wisconsin Herbarium

Wood Spurge  Photo.

Specimen scanned by the Wisconsin Herbarium, Madison, WI.

Scanned specimen courtesy of Wisconsin Herbarium

Wood Spurge  Photo.

Specimen scanned by the Wisconsin Herbarium, Madison, WI.

Scanned specimen courtesy of Wisconsin Herbarium

Wood Spurge  Photo.

Photo © Dan Tenaglia.

Wood Spurge  Photo.

Photo © Richard Baetsen.

Wood Spurge  Photo.

Photo © Steven J. Baskauf.


Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
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