Spurge, the common name for a family of flowering plants whose members are found in virtually all parts of the world. There are about 350 genera and 2,000 species. Spurges vary greatly in appearance. Most are trees or shrubs; a few are herbs. Some grow floating in water, others are vines, and still others—especially tropical and warm temperate species—closely resemble cacti. The flowers of spurges are usually small and inconspicuous; the seeds are usually borne in triangular pods.
In many species the stems contain a poisonous substance that is harmful if touched or swallowed. The milky juice of the chipire is a major source of natural rubber. The waxy juice of the candelilla is used in furniture polish and varnish.
The leafy spurge is a weed found in the north-central and western United States. It has spread across large areas of rangeland, choking out forage plants eaten by livestock.
The chipire is Euphorbia calyculata; the candelilla, E. antisyphilitica; leafy spurge, E. esula. The spurge family is Euphorbiaceae.