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spurgespurge family of flowering plants, in the order Malpighiales, containing some 7,500 species in 275 genera. Many members are important food sources; others are useful for their waxes and oils and as a source of medicinal drugs; dangerous for their poisonous fruits, leaves, or sap; or attractive for their colourful bracts (leaflike structures located just below flower clusters) or unusual forms. Although species of the family grow throughout the world, except in cold alpine or arctic regions, most of them are found in temperate and tropical regions. The family consists of annual and perennial herbs and woody shrubs or trees, rarely climbers.