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Euphorbia lathyris

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Euphorbia lathyris (Caper Spurge or Paper Spurge) is a species of spurge native to southern Europe (France, Italy, Greece, and possibly southern England), northwest Africa, and eastward through southwest Asia to western China.<ref name=grin>Germplasm Resources Information Network: Euphorbia lathyris</ref><ref name=flora>Flora Europaea: Euphorbia lathyris</ref><ref name="blamey">Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2</ref>

Other names occasionally used include Gopher Spurge, Gopher Plant or Mole Plant.<ref name=grin/>



It is an erect biennial (occasionally annual) plant growing up to 1.5 m tall, with a glaucous blue-green stem. The leaves are arranged in decussate opposite pairs, and are lanceolate, 5–15 cm long and 1-2.5 cm broad, glaucous blue-green with a waxy texture and pale greenish-white midrib and veins. The flowers are green to yellow-green, 4 mm diameter, with no petals. The seeds are green ripening brown or grey, produced in globular clusters 13–17 mm diameter of three seeds compressed together.<ref name="blamey"/><ref name="rhs">Huxley, A, ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. ISBN 0-333-47494-5</ref>

Chemical characteristics

All parts of the plant, including the seeds and roots are poisonous. Handling may cause skin irritation as the plant produces latex. While poisonous to humans and most livestock, goats sometimes eat it and are immune to the toxin. However, the toxin can be passed through the goat's milk.<ref>Poisonous Plant Information: Caper Spurge</ref>


Away from its native range, it is widely naturalised in many regions, where it is often considered an invasive weed.<ref name=grin/><ref name=flora/><ref name="rhs"/> It grows in partial shade to full sun in USDA zones 5–9.

Medicinal uses

The Mole Plant is sold by some nurseries<ref>Local Harvest: Mole Plant Seed</ref> as it is believed to repel moles. It is used in folk medicine as a poison, antiseptic, and a purgative. It is used as a folk remedy for cancer, corns, and warts.<ref>Purdue University: It is used for food in China Euphorbia lathyris</ref>

Euphorbia lathyris

External links

Stock illustrative images on Alamy<ref>Alamy</ref>



  • This page was last modified on 2 August 2015, at 18:43.
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