Euphorbiaceae, the spurge family.
Plant: Spreading, mat-forming, branching plant, often with hairy stems, reddish stems, producing tiny, whitish, irregular flowers in the axils of small, oval, often spotted leaves. Annual.
Flowers: Tiny, white, irregular, 1/8", on short stems clustered severally in leaf axils, and surrounded by leafy, bract-like structures. The flowers are peculiar; the usual floral anatomy highly modified.
Leaves: Opposite, oval to somewhat obovate, sessile, 1/8"-1/2" long, often with small spots, margins entire to obscurely toothed, especially near the tips.
Fruit: A hairy, single-seeded capsule surrounded by bract-like structures.
Blooming: June-September/frost. Young plants sometimes produce seeds when only a few weeks old.
Habitat: Roadsides, lawns, gardens, disturbed weedy areas.
The spurges are a diverse group with structurally unusual, generally small flowers, typically
surrounded by bract-like structures that may resemble petals.
The stamen-like structure is actually an entire male flower; the ovary-like structure,
an entire female flower. Petals and sepals are frequently irregular or absent.
Generally herbaceous, some are common weeds.
A very similar plant, prostrate spurge (C. humistrata) is considered the same
species by some taxonomists. One distinguishing characteristic is a tendency for the
latter to root at the nodes.
Where to find it:
Most frequently as a weed in the garden areas around the buildings, and sometimes on the
disturbed margins of lawn areas.