Sandmats of the World's News

January 03, 2020

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 January 03, 2020 06:17 by nathantaylor nathantaylor | 10 comments | Leave a comment

July 17, 2019

All Indian species of Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum added

All 35 taxa known to occur in India have been added. The full list can be found here. Species on efloraofindia can be found here.

Posted on July 17, 2019 02:47 by nathantaylor nathantaylor | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 06, 2019

All Australian species added

I'm starting to go through continent by continent and add all the species of Anisophyllum that haven't been added here yet. Just got finished with Australia (click here for the full list).

Overall, Australia has 87 taxa and 58 species. Queensland and the Northern Territory are tied for the regions having the most taxa at 49 a piece (Western Australia has 48).

Posted on June 06, 2019 16:48 by nathantaylor nathantaylor | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 02, 2019

Madagascar species

What follows is a list of species within sect. Anisophyllum from Madagascar. Many of the links are only accessible if you have access to JSTOR Plants. I'll try to switch over to more open-source platforms as I get into it more. Sources: Euphorbia PBI data portal; JSTOR Plants; Muséum National D'Histoire Naturelle (P). Specimens at GBIF.

Euphorbia grandidieri Baill.
Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Paris 1:615, 1886
Euphorbia PBI data, Holotype, Specimens at GBIF.

Euphorbia hirta L.
Sp. Pl. 454, 1753

Euphorbia humbertii Denis
Euphorb. Iles Austr. Afr. 28, 1921
Euphorbia PBI data, Holotype, Specimens at GBIF.

Euphorbia hypericifolia L.
Sp. Pl. 454, 1753

Euphorbia hyssopifolia L.
Syst. Nat. ed. 10, 2:1048, 1759

Euphorbia mertonii Fosberg
Kew Bull. 33:181, 1978
Euphorbia PBI data, Holotype, Specimens at GBIF.

Euphorbia pellegrinii Leandri
Notul. Syst. (Paris) 13:113, 1947
Euphorbia PBI data, Holotype, Specimens at GBIF.

Euphorbia thymifolia L.
Sp. Pl. 454, 1753

Euphorbia trichophylla Baker
J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 20:250, 1883
Euphorbia PBI data, Type, Specimens at GBIF.

Euphorbia vezorum Leandri
Notul. Syst. (Paris) 13:116, 1947
Euphorbia PBI data, Holotype (no photo), Specimens at GBIF.

Posted on February 02, 2019 04:34 by nathantaylor nathantaylor | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 28, 2018

Statistics tracked

Stats updated 2 Jan 2020 unless stated otherwise
New observations per year:
2010: 1
2011: 7 (total: 8)(x7)
2012: 20 (total: 28)(x2.86)
2013: 82 (total: 110)(x4.1)
2014: 185 (total: 295)(x2.26)
2015: 671 (total: 966)(x3.63)
2016: 1,306 (total: 2,272)(x1.95)
2017: 3,251 (total: 5,523)(x2.49)
2018: 7,697 (total: 13,345)(x2.37)
2019: 11,166 (total: 24,605)(x1.45)

New species per year:
2010: 1
2011: 6 (total: 5)
2012: 8 (total: 13)
2013: 19 (total: 32)
2014: 19 (total: 52)
2015: 27 (total: 79)
2016: 15 (total: 94)
2017: 21 (total: 115)
2018: 25 (total: 140)
2019: 20 (total: 160)

Posted on December 28, 2018 20:16 by nathantaylor nathantaylor | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 27, 2018

Baja California Peninsula hub

Posted on November 27, 2018 05:16 by nathantaylor nathantaylor | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 16, 2018

Recommended Resources List

Section Anisophyllum explained
What makes a good sandmat observation?
Project statistics

iNaturalist projects:
Euphorbia species of the United States
Euphorbia of Mexico
Sandmats of the World

General recomended external links:
Flora of North America
BONAP (for maps)
Euphorbia PBI
Euphorbia PBI species search
Tropicos (great way to find primary literature sources)
Biodiversity Heritage Library (great way to find primary literature sources)
GBIF (great way to find herbarium records)
Encyclopedia of life (often useful if you can find a good global map)
SEINet (great way to find herbarium records and photos)
Index herbariorum (useful in understanding what the herbarium abbreviations refer to)

United States state specific resources (not comprehensive and in progress)
Jepson eFlora
Florida Euphorbia species
Atlas of Florida Plants
New Mexico:
The status of the genus Chamaesyce in New Mexico
The Weedy Species of Sandmats (Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum) in Texas
Sandmats (Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum, previously Chamaesyce) of the Llano Estacado
Seeds of South Australia
Weeds of Japan
Seed and gland morphology in Euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae) with focus on their systematic and phylogenetic importance, a case study in Iranian highlands
Seed morphology of Iranian annual species of
Euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae)

North American list of species (essentially complete)
South American list of species (essentially complete)
Eurasian list of species (not yet available)
African list of species (not yet available)
Australian list of species (essentially complete)
Pacific Islands list of species (not yet available)
Indian Ocean Islands list of species (not yet available)
Atlantic Islands list of species (not yet available)

Posted on September 16, 2018 18:00 by nathantaylor nathantaylor | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 10, 2018

What makes a good sandmat observation?

Since starting out on iNaturalist, I have seen a lot of sandmat observations. Some are good, some are bad, and some are simply unidentifiable (thankfully, a small number). But, there are some that really go above and beyond and make for an immediately identifiable and even taxonomically informative observation. What follows is a list of tips to help make the most out of an observation to ensure a good ID.

1. Get a photo of the entire plant. Some plants grow upright, some clump, and some form thick mats.
2. Get a close-up of upper side of the stem (at the tip of the plant and the base). When taking this photo keep in mind that the important characteristics include: stipules (the tiny structures between each pair of leaves), hairs, cyathia (the flower-like structures), and the fruits. There are two common and relatively widespread species in the United States that can only be separated by the hairs and the seeds, so this can be the most important photograph or set of photographs.
3. Get a close-up of the underside of the stems. Some species root at the nodes or have fused stipules only on the undersides of stems. Also, try to get the undersides of fruits (and their style branches) in focus as this can be quite helpful.

These 3 should be enough to get you an ID for most species, but for some, it is better to get more.
4. Photograph the seeds. Seeds can be difficult to photograph but are also some of the most informative structures. If you need help with this, I recommending reading the Tips on Harvesting and Photographing Seeds post.
5. Get super close-ups of any of the structures mentioned above.

Posted on May 10, 2018 18:57 by nathantaylor nathantaylor | 1 comments | Leave a comment