Euphorbia lathyris, the caper spurge or paper spurge, is a species of spurge native to southern Europe (Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal), northwest Africa, and eastward through southwest Asia to western China.[1][2][3]

Euphorbia lathyris
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Euphorbia
E. lathyris
Binomial name
Euphorbia lathyris

Euphorbia lathyrus (lapsus)

Other names occasionally used include gopher spurge, gopher plant or mole plant.[1]

Growth edit

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 to brown or grey, produced in globular clusters 13–17 mm diameter of three seeds compressed together.[3][4]

Chemical characteristics edit

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.[5]

Habitat edit

Away from its native range, it is widely naturalised in many regions, where it is often considered an invasive weed.[1][2][4] It grows in partial shade to full sun in USDA zones 5–9.

Uses edit

It is used in folk medicine as a remedy for cancer, corns, and warts and has purportedly been used by beggars to induce skin boils.[6]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Euphorbia lathyris". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Flora Europaea: Euphorbia lathyris
  3. ^ a b Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2
  4. ^ a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. ISBN 0-333-47494-5. OCLC 25202760.
  5. ^ Poisonous Plant Information: Caper Spurge Archived 2006-10-20 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Purdue University: Euphorbia lathyris