Information on habit, biology, persistence & spread for Caper spurge.

Other names

Latin names

Euphorbia lathyrus L.

Weed Type

Biennial Weeds


Caper spurge is an herbaceous biennial, that may occur in fields and gardens. It is found as a casual or naturalised alien in waste places and is possibly native in shady places. The plant has been found in cottage gardens and coppiced woods.

The seeds are poisonous. The plant exudes an irritating milky sap when damaged.


Caper spurge flowers from June to July.

The seeds germinate in May.

Persistence and Spread

Caper spurge seeds are thought to be capable of remaining viable for long periods in soil.

The ripe seeds are dispersed explosively. The seeds bear an extra structure that is attractive to ants and this may help with seed dispersal.


Normal soil cultivations should give adequate control. It is important to prevent seeding.

Updated September 2007

Fully referenced review