Euphorbiaceae, the Spurge family are a large family of flowering plants with 300 genera and around 7,500 species. Most are herbs, but some, especially in the tropics, are also shrubs or trees. Some are succulent and resemble cacti.
This family occurs mainly in the tropics, with the majority of the species in the Indo-Malayan region and tropical America a good second. There is a large variety in tropical Africa, but it is not as abundant or varied as in these two other tropical regions. However, Euphorbia also has many species in non-tropical areas such as the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, South Africa, and southern USA.
The leaves are alternate, seldom opposite, with stipules. They are mainly simple, but where compound, are always palmate, never pinnate. Stipules may be reduced to hairs, glands, or spines, or in succulent species are sometimes absent.
The radially symmetrical flowers are unisexual, with the male and the female flowers usually occurring on the same plant. As can be expected from such a large family, there is a wide variety in the structure of the flowers. They can be monoecious or dioecious. The stamens (the male organs) can number from 1 to 10 (or even more). The female flowers are hypogynous, that is, with a superior ovary.