Herbs, shrubs, or trees with milky sap

Leaves alternate, simple or compound, reduced or deciduous in xerophytic species

Flowers unisexual, actinomorphic, infl. often condensed with the appearance of a single flower; plants monoecious or dioecious

Fruit a schizocarp or capsule

Seed often with a conspicuous caruncle (appendage)

Two "types" of flowers

Euphorbia type

NonEuphorbia type

300 genera, 7500 species

Very large diverse family with large trees to cactus-like plants found in Old World (Africa) - an example of convergent evolution

Economic uses:
Hevea - Brazilian rubber plant
Euphorbia - Poinsettia

Many members of this family are poisonous

Diagnostic charactersitics: milky sap, unusual "flowers", 3-lobed fruit