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Euphorbia peplus

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Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge,<ref name=grin/><ref name=Eterracina>Template:Cite web</ref> radium weed,<ref name=Eterracina/> cancer weed,<ref name=Eterracina/> or milkweed<ref name=Eterracina/>) is a species of Euphorbia, native to most of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, where it typically grows in cultivated arable land, gardens, and other disturbed land.<ref name=grin>Template:GRIN</ref><ref name=flora>Flora Europaea: Euphorbia peplus</ref><ref name="blamey">Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Template:ISBN</ref>

Outside of its native range it is very widely naturalised and often invasive, including in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and other countries in temperate and sub-tropical regions.<ref name=grin/>

Description

It is an annual plant growing to between 5–30 cm tall (most plants growing as weeds of cultivation tend towards the smaller end), with smooth hairless stems. The leaves are oval-acute, 1–3 cm long, with a smooth margin. It has green flowers in three-rayed umbels. The glands, typical of the Euphorbiaceae, are kidney-shaped with long thin horns.<ref name="blamey"/>

Medicinal uses

The plant's sap is toxic to rapidly replicating human tissue, and has long been used as a traditional remedy for common skin lesions, including cancer.<ref name=Siller/> The active ingredient in the sap is a diterpene ester called ingenol mebutate. A pharmaceutical-grade ingenol mebutate gel has approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of actinic keratosis.<ref name=Siller>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref>Lebwohl, M, et al. "Ingenol Mebutate Gel for Actinic Keratosis." N Engl J Med 366;11, March 15, 2012.</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

References

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