by Stephen Mifsud
   22 Jun 2024      ()
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Euphorbia serpens   (Matted sandmat)

Euphorbia serpens  (EUPHORBIACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Aug-2022 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Euphorbia serpens - datasheet created on Aug-2022. Retrieved from on 22-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Euphorbia serpensKunth
Published in Nov. Gen. Sp. 2: 52 (1817)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Chamaesyce serpens (Kunth) Small
Synonym that was used for long in Malta: Euphorbia chamasyce auct. Melit. non Kunth
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Euphorbiaceae Juss. (The Spurge Family)
30 species from the Euphorbiaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Matted sandmat

Maltese name(s) :

Ġemmugħa tat-toroq

Status for Malta :

Doubtful origin. It is not yet established if this species is native or not.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent    Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE ( annual plants, herbaceous )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

April – December

Colour of Flowers:

Inconspicuous or White


Mildy toxic, can cause adverse conditions if consumed in large quantities

Name Derivation :

Euphorbia: Named for Euphorbus, a Greek physician to Juba II - King of Mauretania of Numibia (52-50 BC - 23 AD), who might have used a certain plant in allusion to his swollen belly, possibly the plant Euphorbia resinifera. (Further info: [link]). Euphorbus can have also been derived from 'Eu-' = good or true and '-phorbe' = pasture or fodder, thus giving the meaning well-fed or provides a fat-belly from consumption. (Greek origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Remarks :

In the past this species have been misidentified with the closely related E. chaemasyce but both species differe in details of the fruit and stipules. E. chaemasyce occurs in more natural habitats in Malta, such as dry valley beds and valley sides. See local paper in the literature section of this profile [ click here ]

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Stony or disturbed ground especially in urban areas
Preferred habitat in Malta: Streets, roadsides, curbs, pavement keystones and several other urban places. Sometimes found in rural paths and field margins.
Botanical Description: Herbs, annual, 15-20 cm tall. Root fibrous, 1-2 mm, branched or not. Stems many from base, prostrate, 1-2 mm thick, internodes with adventitious roots, often green, sometimes purple striate, glabrous. Leaves opposite; stipules membranous, triangular, caducous; petiole ca. 1 mm; leaf blade oblong, 2-5 × 1.5-3 mm, gray-green pilose, base truncate or cordate, margin entire. Cyathia single, axillary; involucre turbinate to campanulate, 0.5-0.7 × 0.4-0.5 mm, glabrous, marginal lobes 4; glands 4, reniform-rounded, appendages white, longer and wider than glands. Male flowers 3-5, usually not exserted. Female flower: pedicel ca. 0.5 mm; exserted from involucre; ovary smooth, glabrous; styles free; stigma deeply 2-lobed. Capsule subglobose, 1.5-1.8 × 1.6-1.9 mm, smooth, glabrous; fruiting pedicel ca. 2 mm. Seeds oblong-ovoid, 0.9-1.1 × 0.6-0.9 mm, gray to brown, often smooth, sometimes furrowed; caruncle absent.
Distributional range: Casual in S. France and Spain, where it is perhaps locally naturalized.
Native region outside Europe: South America

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Introduced in  France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics)
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
AE(G) [Az Ca Cr Gr]

Links & Further literature (1 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Contribution to the flora of the Maltese Islands: Euphorbia subg. Chamaesyce and Euphorbia exigua s. l. (Euphorbiaceae) Stephen Mifsud  (2018)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (9 images)
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-0.
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-1.
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-2.
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-3.
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-4.
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-5.
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-6.
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-7.
   Euphorbia serpens   -   Image Code: EUPSP-8.

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