Yearly highlights for the world of Chamaesyce

This has been an awesome Euphorbia year for iNaturalist and I figured I'd share the highlights with all of you. Firstly, we broke 20,000 observations of Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum! This is amazing for such a small underappreciated group of plants. We also got to 160 species! This is an awesome number and way more than I ever could have dreamed when I first looked into iNaturalist in 2014. Believe it or not, this is still well under half the number of total species known. My last count going through my excel datasheet yielded about 404 valid species with 488 taxa (i.e., including subspecific entities). Some places, in particular, have witnessed amazing growth in the past year and I'd like to highlight that by discussing what's going on by continent:

North America: With the uploading of E. laredana this year, there are only 3 species left in the continental United States that have not been observed there. Since these species have been observed in Mexico, all species that occur in the continental US have now been photographed. I have not tallied the species for Mexico, but there are definitely species left to be photographed there. As for my personal research, this has been a great year with leaps forward in the E. dioeca complex, E. adenoptera complex, E. serpillifolia complex, and understanding the Baja California endemics. I highly recommend looking through some of the Baja California observations. They represent a group of species that are difficult to nearly impossible to define without seeds, but quite interesting and beautiful. There were a lot of interesting observations posted, but many are potentially publishable finds so I don't want to go into a ton of details here. I would like to thank @jaykeller, @gilles48, @catchang, @jrebman, @susanhewitt, and @mjplagens for these and other many wonderful observations and commentary! As the continent that has produced 83.9% of the total sect. Anisophyllum observations and has 82.1% of the total sect. Anisophyllum observers worldwide, there are so many more observers here that should be thanked, but time prohibits me from listing them all. I will also be writing shorter yearly highlights for the Euphorbia species of the United States and probably Euphorbia of Mexico, so hopefully I will have the chance to make up for this lack.

South America: A lot of awesome observations came in this year from South America! In particular, Columbia and Ecuador have taken off. Because of this, I've had the opportunity to attempt IDs for species from the Galapagos and the Andes! All the Galapagos endemics are shrubby species that are very closely related and even hybridize with each other. For a species that will amaze you, I recommend looking at E. amplexicaulis Despite how weird and wonderful they are, I personally prefer studying the opaque mystery of the Andean endemics. The species are all closely related, poorly studied and seem relatively poorly defined. My favorites are E. jamesonii and E. melanocarpa. There was also a good burst in Paraguay were species like E. eichleri and E. oranensis were observed. I have a particular fondness for E. oranensis as it looks like some strange cross between E. prostrata and E. stictospora. As for my research, the observations of E. ophthalmica, E. adenoptera, and E. dioeca have been immensely interesting and/or helpful. Thanks especially to @patrickas, @elacroix-carignan, @ripleyrm, and @profe_mire.

Europe: Not much to report out of Europe this year for E. sect Anisophyllum. The E. peplis and E. chamaesyce observations are always wonderful, but well known. Euphorbia peplis is a particularly interesting species as it is the type species for the genus Chamaesyce and has what I think are the most asymmetric leaves of any species in the section. Euphorbia chamaesyce is interesting because its specific epithet is that of the genus. Because of this, the name under the genus Chamaesyce is different (C. canescens). I'm really hoping someone finds the only endemic taxon to the continent: Euphorbia serpens var. fissistipula. This is a really nice plant and one of the few that has a well defined pistillate calyx.

Asia: I have been super excited about the handful of observations that have come out of India. I consider these to be some of the most beautiful in the world and rival even the showy appendages of some of the Sonoran Desert species! I am especially grateful for the observations by @swapnaprabhu, @aparnaw, @mayuresh_kulkarni, @sushantmore, and @chiefredearth. Though not on iNaturalist, Euphorbia cristata yet continues to be my favorite from the continent, though Euphorbia kischenensis may be a close second. I even joined efloraofindia to facilitate my understanding of these species. Taiwan continues to be a reliable source of observations and I think most or all of the species were observed here last year (I'll check this next time I look into the group for the region). In Taiwan, I am particularly appreciative of all the observations contributed by @pseudoshuigeeee. A review of Asia wouldn't be complete without mentioning the high-quality observations @trh_blue and @trcarlisle have been posting from the western Middle East (Israel and mostly Turkey respectively). Though there are fewer endemic Anisophyllous species in these regions than other areas in Asia, these two have provided one of the most consistent supplies of high-quality observations across the continent outside of Taiwan.

Africa: I admit to being a bit less active here than I'd like to be. There are several African endemics that have been observed, but most are represented by the following trans-continental species: E. hyssopifolia, E. hirta, E. ophthalmica, E. serpens, E. prostrata, E. hirta, E. thymifolia, and E. maculata. A couple of the more interesting species posted are Euphorbia neopolycnemoides and Euphorbia convolvuloides. Euphorbia ophthalmica has some interesting variability in Africa that indicates it may have originated from separate New World populations. I have been more active in identifying the species in Madagascar and the surrounding islands. Euphorbia mertonii is a beautiful little plant. @jpcasti has kindly provided photos from Reunion outside of iNaturalist. @ehbidault has provided photos from other surrounding islands. To both, I am quite grateful. As for the rest of Africa, I really hope to do more next year as there are some quite interesting forms that have been observed there.

Australia and the rest of Oceania: Australia has witnessed an uptick in observations this year. Relative to the very high diversity of endemics found in Australia, there still aren't many on here yet, but I'm hopeful for next year. I'm particularly fond of the new observations of Euphorbia wheeleri and Euphorbia ferdinandi var. ferdinandi. I especially appreciate the contributions of @silversea_starsong, @williamdomenge9, @nyoni-pete that have proved quite memorable. Hawaii continues to do pretty well as I continue to put off looking into their identifications. I think this is the only place on earth were the species in this group become trees. There are no observations really showing this, but this observation of Euphorbia celastroides var. kaenana shows just how woody these plants can get. New Zealand has been observed abundantly but seems to only have one known species: E. maculata, a common weedy plant worldwide. There are few observations in Oceania outside Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii but they are interesting. Those that aren't the common intercontinental species are mostly represented by species often referred to as E. atoto or are related to these. I have been hesitant to get into this group as E. atoto itself generally refers to the wrong plant when commonly applied (more information here). Here's an interesting member of this group observed this year that isn't E. atoto.

Overall, it appears my New Year's resolution needs to be to focus on the species from continental Africa, Hawaii, and the Oceanian members commonly referred to as E. atoto. In addition to this, there are several species complexes in North America that need revision. It appears a taxonomists work is never done! Hope everyone had a Happy New Year and here's to a good year of study and observing Chamaesyces!

Posted on 03 de enero de 2020 by nathantaylor nathantaylor


Thank you for the thorough review! Looking forward to continuing to learn more about these lovely plants.

Publicado por trh_blue hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

Oh And I really will get around to getting my seed samples under a microscope, my PTSD had a real bad flare up which basically incapacitated me for a week and a half.... >.< ...It will take a while for me to catch up on all the school I missed ):

Publicado por trh_blue hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

I appreciate your help in identifying species - I'll try to get better collections of images in the new year!!

Publicado por nyoni-pete hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

@trh_blue I'm so sorry to hear about your PTSD! I hope you are recovering well. As always, I look forward to seeing what you post.
@nyoni-pete No problem at all. I look forward to what the new year brings!

Publicado por nathantaylor hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

It’s been fun being on the lookout for Euphorbias. I’m still feeling Euphorbia-blind when it comes to IDing to species. Many thanks for your expert help! My 2020 mini look ahead includes returning to Hawaii. I’ll reach out when I have firm plans to find out if there are any specific species to look for. Looking forward to learning more.

Publicado por catchang hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

Thank you for this I would love to learn about this group more in upcoming days

Publicado por sushantmore hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

Thanks again for your help in identifying my mysterious Euphorbia from Paraguay! It was really interesting to read your highlights!

Publicado por elacroix-carignan hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

Gracias por compartir sus conocimientos con la comunidad de iNaturalist. Un abrazo.

Publicado por profe_mire hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

thanks so much

Publicado por aparnaw hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

You are all most welcome. The observations you have posted and the conversations I've had with each of you have really made this year special.
@catchang you're certainly not alone there. It takes quite a bit of time to train your eyes to look for the proper characteristics. I guess your trip to Hawaii should give me a good excuse to stop putting off looking into the endemic species there. :-) I look forward to it!

It looks like I posted this a bit too quickly last night as there were a couple of major errors (in Europe and North America). These should be fixed now and I have also added a couple of extra lines for North America.

Publicado por nathantaylor hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

Thank you so much, Nathan! Great review!!

Publicado por swapnaprabhu hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

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