Euphorbia lathyris

Caper Spurge, Gopher Plant, Gopher Spurge, Moleplant, Paper Spurge

  • Euphorbia lathyris

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Min. hardiness zone:
Item ID:

Growing Info

Scarification: soak in warm water, let stand in water for 12 hours
Stratification: none required
Germination: sow seed 1/4" deep, tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed

Other: Germination should take place within 3 months.|Does not transplant well. Sow in place. 

Euphorbia lathyris, also known as caper spurge or paper spurge, is a species of spurge native to southern Europe. It can also be found in France, Italy, Greece, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia to western China. Other names for this plant include gopher spurge, gopher plant, and mole plant.
This plant is an erect biennial, although it can sometimes behave as an annual. It can grow up to 4 ft tall and has a glaucous blue-green stem. The leaves are lanceolate, 5-15 cm long, and have a waxy texture. The flowers are green to yellow-green and have no petals. The seeds are green, ripening to brown or grey, and are produced in clusters of three seeds.
It is important to note that all parts of the plant, including the seeds and roots, are highly poisonous. Handling the plant may cause skin irritation due to the latex it produces. Although poisonous to humans and most livestock, goats are sometimes immune to its toxicity and may eat the plant. However, the toxin can be passed through the goat's milk.
Euphorbia lathyris is often used in folk medicine as a remedy for cancer, corns, and warts. It has also been used to induce skin boils. However, its medicinal use should be approached with caution due to its toxic properties.
This plant is sometimes sold by nurseries as it is believed to repel moles. It prefers a light, well-drained soil and can grow in partial shade to full sun. It is known to self-sow freely and its seeds can be sown in spring. Germination usually occurs within 2-3 weeks at 68°F.
Overall, Euphorbia lathyris is a unique and interesting plant with its toxic properties and folklore medicinal uses. However, caution should be exercised when handling and using it.

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