- Family: Spurge Family – Euphorbiaceae
- Growing form: Annual or occasionally biennial herb.
- Height: 5–20 cm (2–8 in.). Stem branched from base. Containing latex.
- Flower: The small male and female flowers which lack a perianth are borne in groups in the centre of a bowl-like involucre, the whole resembling a single yellow flower. Stamens numerous. Carpels 3, fused. Subtending bracts narrowly ovate. Nectariferous glands in cyathia sickle-shaped with long points. Inflorescence a 3–5-branched compound umbel, branches 2-branched.
- Leaves: Alternate, stalkless. Blade linear, tapered, with entire margin.
- Fruit: 2 mm (0.08 in.) long, 3-valved, glossy capsule.
- Habitat: Gardens, cultivated land, wasteland.
- Flowering time: June–September.
Finland’s only original spurge is marsh spurge (E. palustris), in addition to which a couple of similar-sized species and several small annual species have settled in. The latter demand nutrition and calciferous soil, and they usually grow as weeds. Dwarf spurge is not completely established in Finland, but it can be found in rural and urban flowerbeds and in allotments. Solitary or a few individuals can of course sprout in other places: soil heaps, land-fill areas and lawns. Small-sized specimens can also be found casually in the wild.
The scientific name of the family originates from the plant’s use as medicine: in ancient times in northern Africa the king of Numidia’s physician Euphorbius was so knowledgeable about spurges and their properties that the plants were named in his honour.