CPC Plant Profile: Glade Spurge
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Plant Profile

Glade Spurge (Euphorbia purpurea)

An individual with green bracts surrounding the inflorescenses. Photo Credit: John Lynch
Description
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • State: WV, DE, GA, MD, NC, NJ, OH, PA, VA
  • Nature Serve ID: 159702
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

This handsome, stout perennial is found in rich stream valleys of the Appalachian belt of the eastern United States from Delaware to Ohio and West Virginia. This species is rare throughout its range, and wetland alteration, grazing by deer and livestock, and trampling by recreational activity pose continual threats to it's long-term survival. Research and Management Summary: A number of individuals and institutions have studied this species, but very little information is available on management activities in areas where it occurs. Plant Description: Growing to 1 meter (3 feet) in height, Euphorbia purpurea is named for the purplish, glandular bracts (leaves that enclose inflorescences) that are characteristic of members of its plant family. It is a perennial that forms from a thick rhizome. Its lightly fuzzy leaves are 1 to 3 cm long and occur opposite each other along the stem. Its fruits are small (6 to 8 mm long) and covered with irregular bumps.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/11/2020
  • Propagation Research

Some plants were propagated in 1991 and have grown well in the garden. However, cultivation from rooted cuttings and germination from seed are both very erratic and difficult to replicate. Seed cleaned and stored dry or refrigerated and sown outdoors can germinate, but results are variable.

  • 09/11/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

The New England Wild Flower Society has cooperated with The Nature Conservancy Ohio Field Office (contact Larry Smith) to collect and store seed from Ohio

  • 09/11/2020
  • Seed Collection

The New England Wild Flower Society has cooperated with The Nature Conservancy Ohio Field Office (contact Larry Smith) to collect and store seed from Ohio

  • 09/11/2020
  • Demographic Research

Dr. Carol Loeffler of Dickinson College is studying the demography and ecology of three populations of Euphorbia purpurea in Pennsylvania (see http://www.dickinson.edu/departments/biol/loeffler.html [accessed 20 August 2001])

  • 09/11/2020
  • Living Collection

The Nature Conservancy has protected at least one occurrence of Euphorbia purpurea (NatureServe 2001).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Euphorbia purpurea is known from approximately 50 extant occurrences in seven states and presumed to be extirpated in two, possibly three, states. Draining and filling of wetland areas, extensive grazing, trampling, recreational vehicle activity, and hiking traffic are threats to this species. Some populations occurs in protected areas and it is resistant to moderate levels of disturbance in some situations.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

As articulated by NatureServe 2001, Fortney 1993, and the Morris Arboretum of Pennsylvania: Herbivory by deer and other mammals Habitat conversion for agriculture and residential development Off-road vehicle use and trampling by hikers

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Euphorbia purpurea is reported from approximately 50 extant occurrences (NatureServe 2001), many with small populations. Worldwide population numbers are unknown, but probably on the order of less than 10,000 plants.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Dr. Carol Loeffler of Dickinson College is studying the demography and ecology of three populations of Euphorbia purpurea in Pennsylvania (see http://www.dickinson.edu/departments/biol/loeffler.html [accessed 20 August 2001]) The New England Wild Flower Society has cooperated with The Nature Conservancy Ohio Field Office (contact Larry Smith) to collect and store seed from Ohio. Some plants were propagated in 1991 and have grown well in the garden. However, cultivation from rooted cuttings and germination from seed are both very erratic and difficult to replicate. Seed cleaned and stored dry or refrigerated and sown outdoors can germinate, but results are variable. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists Doug Ogle (Virginia Highlands Community College, Abingdon, Virginia); Ted Bradley (George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia); Chris Ludwig (Virginia Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond); and Garrie Rouse (Rouse Environmental Services, Aylett, Virginia) as survey contacts knowledgeable about Euphorbia purpurea as of November 1999.

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

The Nature Conservancy has protected at least one occurrence of Euphorbia purpurea (NatureServe 2001).

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Studies to identify pollinators, naturally-occurring insect herbivores, and seed dispersal agents Studies quantifying the impact of deer grazing on Euphorbia purpurea Long-term demographic studies to inform population viability analyses Monitoring to document any herbivory (host-switching) on Euphorbia purpurea by newly-released biocontrol agents meant to control Euphorbia esula (leafy spurge)

Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
  • 01/01/2010

Studies quantifying the long-term viability of seed in storage are needed

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Euphorbia purpurea
Authority (Raf.) Fern.
Family Euphorbiaceae
CPC Number 1910
ITIS 28126
USDA EUPU4
Common Names Darlington's spurge | glade spurge | purple spurge | Darlington's glade spurge
Associated Scientific Names Euphorbia purpurea | Euphorbia darlingtonii | Galarhoeus darlingtonii | Tithymalus darlingtonii | Agaloma purpurea | Keraselma ciliata | Euphorbia nemoralis | Euphorbia discolor | Euphorbia pilosa | Euphorbia darlingtonii var. glabra
Distribution Euphorbia purpurea occurs in mid-Atlantic states of the eastern United States including Pennsylvania New Jersey, Delaware (only one population known), Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virg
State Rank
State State Rank
Delaware S1
Georgia S1
Maryland S1
North Carolina S2
New Jersey S1
Ohio S1
Pennsylvania S1
Virginia S2
West Virginia S2
Habitat

Euphorbia purpurea tends to occur in rich, cool woods along seeps, swamps or streamside, often influenced by circumneutral bedrock such as limestone or Ordovician sandstone (Fortney 1975). The species is primarily known from the interior highlands of Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the Virginias, although a few populations persist in Delaware and New Jersey (Ogle 1989, NatureServe 2001). There, the growing season is short and precipitation amounts are high relative to the lower elevation regions (Fortney 1975). Other plant species observed in these areas include disjunct northern taxa like balsam fir (Abies balsamifera), glaucus willow (Salix sp.), Alder-leaved buckthorn (Rhamnus alnifolia), Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), purple avens (Geum rivale) and highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), trembling aspen, fire cherry, red raspberry, and swamp Saxifrage (Fortney 1975, 1993). Other associated species described from the single Ohio occurrence include bulblet fern (Cystopteris bulbifera), ginger (Asarum canadense), and goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus), also indicative of rich soils. NOTE: Euphorbia purpurea is considered a facultative wetland plant (USDA 2001), but Gleason and Cronquist (1991) describe the habitat as dry or moist woods.

Ecological Relationships

The ecological relationships of Euphorbia purpurea have not been documented in published scientific literature. The plant typically flowers during May and June (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). It is capable of vegetative reproduction along a starchy rhizome. The related Euphorbia esula (leafy spurge), a weedier species, shows ballistic seed dispersal in which seeds are thrown up to 15 feet from the plant and secondarily dispersed by water and animals (USDA 1989), but these phenomena have not been confirmed for this species. Euphorbia purpurea appears to thrive in the dappled shade of a woodland canopy and grows best on rich, circumneutral soils (Fortney 1975). A major threat to the species is herbivory, particularly by deer (Rhoads 2001) and groundhogs. Another potentially threatening herbivore is the root-mining flea beetle, Aphthona flava Guill., which has been widely introduced to control leafy spurge (Pemberton 1985, USDA 1989). However, studies by APHIS at Purdue University indicate that this biocontrol agent does not host-switch (yet) to the rarer Euphorbia purpurea.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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