spotted spurge

Chamaesyce maculata
Herb
Opposite
Simple
Red
Green
Green
Discoloured

A small, short-lived, herbaceous plant with creeping to semi-upright stems. Its slender stems are often reddish, contain a milky sap, and are softly hairy. Its paired leaves (3-12 mm long) are borne on very short stalks and have entire or finely toothed margins. These leaves are green and sometimes bear a purplish or reddish-brown spot at their centre. Its tiny greenish or reddish 'flowers' are borne singly in the leaf forks. Its tiny hairy capsules (1.3-2 mm long) have three compartments, each containing a single pale brown, grey or greyish-brown seed.

Family 
Euphorbiaceae
Deciduous 
Flowering time 
Spring - Summer
Common names 
Also known as: caustic weed, eyebane, milk purslane, milk spurge, prostrate spotted spurge, prostrate spurge, red caustic-creeper, spotted pursley, spotted sandmat, spotted mat-spurge, spotted spurge, spurge,
Origin 
Native to North America.
Known distribution 

Mainly naturalised in the Moreton district in south-eastern Queensland. Widely naturalised in eastern New South Wales and present in some inland regions of southern and central Queensland. Also naturalised in some other parts of Australia (i.e. in Victoria, the ACT, south-eastern South Australia and the southern parts of the Northern Territory) as well as on Lord Howe Island and Christmas Island.

Habitat 

A weed of gardens, footpaths, lawns, parks, roadsides, disturbed sites and waste areas.

Habit 

A small, short-lived (i.e. annual) herbaceous plant with several creeping (i.e. prostate) to semi-upright (i.e. ascending) stems growing up to 30 cm long. Plants may form a dense mat of vegetation over the soil surface or grow 10-17 cm tall.

Stem and leaves 

Its stems are often reddish in colour and are covered in small, soft hairs (i.e. they are villous). The stems and leaves contain a milky sap (i.e. latex). The leaves are paired and borne on very short stalks (i.e. petioles) only 0.5-2 mm long. These leaves (3-12 mm long and 1-5 mm wide) are oblong, oval (i.e. elliptic) or elongated in shape with a rounded tip (i.e. obtuse apex). Their margins are entire or finely toothed (i.e. serrulate), particularly towards their tips. The upper leaf surfaces are green and sometimes bear a purplish or reddish-brown spot at their centre. The leaf undersides are pale green or greyish-green and both leaf surfaces are usually hairless (i.e. glabrous).

Flowers and fruits 

Tiny male and female flowers are grouped into small cup-like structures (i.e. cyathia). These relatively inconspicuous greenish or reddish cyathia are produced singly in the leaf forks (i.e. axils) and borne on stalks (i.e. peduncles) 1-2 mm long. Each cyathium consists of a small cup-like structure (i.e. involucre) 0.7-1 mm long with five minute teeth and four small white or pinkish petal-like appendages (i.e. glands) about 0.5 mm long. They also have four or five male flowers, each consisting of a single stamen, and a single female flower, consisting of a large stalked ovary. The tiny hairy capsules (about 1.3-2 mm long and 1-2 mm wide) have three compartments, each containing a single seed. The pale brown, grey or greyish-brown seeds (about 1 mm long and 0.7 mm wide) are four-sided or somewhat egg-shaped (i.e. ovoid) and slightly furrowed.

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces only by seed, which are dispersed by wind, water, vehicles, in soil and in contaminated agricultural produce.

Impact and control methods 
Foliar spray
or
Cut and remove

Spotted spurge (Chamaesyce maculata) is a relatively common weed of gardens, roadsides, railway lines and disturbed sites in the region. It is rarely a weed of natural vegetation.

Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL
Similar species 

Spotted spurge (Chamaesyce maculata) is very similar to red caustic weed (Chamaesyce prostrata) and thyme-leaved spurge (Chamaesyce thymifolia). It is also similar to some closely-related native spurges including Chamaesyce dallachyana and Chamaesyce drummondii. These species can be distinguished by the following differences: spotted spurge (Chamaesyce maculata) has green or reddish coloured hairy stems and its leaves often have a purplish or reddish-brown spot in the centre. Its three-sided fruit are stalked and softly hairy all over (without fringed bases).red caustic weed (Chamaesyce prostrata) has purplish partially hairy stems and its leaves are not spotted. Its three-sided fruit are stalked and hairy only on the angles (without fringed bases).thyme-leaved spurge (Chamaesyce thymifolia) has green or reddish coloured hairy stems and its leaves are not spotted. Its three-sided fruit are practically stalkless and softly hairy all over (without fringed bases).Chamaesyce dallachyana has green or reddish hairless stems and its leaves are not spotted. Its three-sided fruit are stalked and hairless (with fringed bases).Chamaesyce drummondii has green or reddish hairless stems and its leaves are not spotted. Its three-sided fruit are stalked and hairless (without fringed bases).