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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/>


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>



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