Prostrate spurge, prostrate sandmat

Prostrate spurge Euphorbia prostrata

Euphorbia prostrata

Euphorbia prostrata on a roadside in Mallorca
Euphorbia prostrata on a roadside in Mallorca. That’s where I first saw the spurge. Now it grows in my neighbourhood too.


The prostrate spurge (Euphorbia prostrata) is an annual with shoots that either lie flat on the ground or point slightly upwards. It can grow up to 20 centimetres long. Here in Germany it can show its small flowers from July to September. The stems may or may not be dark pink.

Euphorbia prostrata

Euphorbia prostrata vs. Euphorbia maculata

The prostrate spurge looks very similar to the spotted spurge, but there are also specimens without the typical leaf spots. These plants can be distinguished by their fruits.

The fruits of Euphorbia maculata are covered with short hairs, while those of Euphorbia prostrata have slightly longer hairs growing only on the edges.

Euphorbia prostrata Euphorbia maculata

Distribution and habitats

Euphorbia prostrata is native to southern North America, Central America and some South American countries. As an introduced species it is also found in regions of Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe (distribution map).

Prostrate sandmat on a pavement
Prostrate sandmat growing on a pavement.

Prostrate sandmat, as Euphorbia prostrata is also called, grows on roadsides, paths, banks and in weedy areas.

Prostrate spurge with amaranth and common purslane
Prostrate spurge, amaranth and common purslane.
Euphorbia prostrata leaves
The leaf margins of Euphorbia prostrata are covered with fine hairs.