Summary of spurge and its traditional use

Kumeyaay name: unknown

Cliff Spurge (Euphorbia misera)


Cliff Spurge is native to southern California and Baja California, where it is known from the Sonoran Desert and the coastline, including the Channel Islands of California. It occurs in close proximity to the coast, often on steep slopes. Although common in Baja, it is very rare in California due to urbanization. Cliff spurge is a perennial succulent type shrub that reaches dimensions of 3 to 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide. It flowers in the spring, summer, and winter. All the parts of this plant will produce a milky secretion when damaged that can cause rashes if it comes in direct contact with skin.


Kumeyaay uses of cliff spurge are unknown. Some species of Euphorbia, especially mat eyiiw (Rattlesnake Weed, Euphorbia albinomarginata), are boiled and the decoction is used to wash sores. It is also made into a poultice and a tea for insect and snakebites. Mat eyiiw, translates to “earth’s eyes,” fitting for this plant that has leaves that lay close to the ground.