(Photos: E. Cousins, growth habit, close up of leaves and berries)
This bush is one stiff little cookie! You wouldn’t want to fall into it because the branches are rigid and the hard little leaves all end in really sharp points. At Cape Jervis it grows as a rounded shrub, rarely more than knee-high. The leaves are about twice as long as they are broad, at about 16mm long and 8mm wide. It is quite an eye-catching shrub, though: the shiny upper sides of the leaves make the bush look a bit sparkly, and with that built-in rigidity, it never looks wilted even in the harsh summer conditions of Cape Jervis. In Spring, the shiny groundberries make their appearance after the pale greenish flowers. The berries are bright red and fleshy, each encasing a hard brown seed. Maybe a pretty pincushion for your garden???
(Chamaesyce or Euphorbia drummondii)
(Photos: E. Cousins; growth habit, close up of leaf, tap root)
We featured this weed 2 years ago, but thought we would revisit it given a friend’s experience in December. After hand weeding it, her hands were left swollen and burned by an allergic reaction to the sap exuding from the stems. The plant is a short-lived perennial herb with a deep taproot. Smooth, thin red stems, up to 20cm long, fan out from the centre and hug the ground. The oval-shaped leaves are blue-green with a reddish-purple blotch. They grow in pairs with very short stalks, opposite each other along the stems. The inconspicuous flower heads grow in small groups that are composed of one female and several male flowers. Seeds can germinate at any time, with the biggest flush in spring; then the plants grow quickly over summer. So if weeding it out now, wear gloves, and definitely keep your hands away from your eyes!