Chamaesyce maculata

Euphorbia maculate, Spotted Spurge, prostrate spurge, creeping spurge, matweed, milk purslane, spotted sandmat

Description: summer annual

Place of origin: eastern North America

Urban habitat: drought-tolerant plant that grows well in disturbed sites in full sun; common in areas of compacted soil, in pavement openings and cracks, vacant lots, rubble dumps, trampled lawns, neglected ornamental landscapes, vegetable gardens, rock outcrops, and stone walls.

Ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground.

History: Native Americans used Chamaesyce maculata for a variety of medicinal purposes, as a blood purifier, antiseptic, to treat urinary problems, toothaches, gonorrhea, and eye and skin problems. The Cherokee used a decoction of the plant to treat cancer. The plant is toxic to livestock and its milky sap can irritate human skin.