E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Euphorbia lathyris L.
caper spurge (moleplant)
Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Robert Flogaus-Faust  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #64097)

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Distribution of Euphorbia lathyris
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Species Information

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Biennial herb from a fibrous root; stems erect, branched, fleshy, glabrous and glaucous, 30-100 cm tall.
Stem leaves opposite, the pairs arranged at right angles to the adjacent pairs near the stem base, narrowly oblong, 6-12 cm long, 7-15 mm wide, stalkless, broadening in shape upward on the stem; upper leaves distinctly more oval in shape and more or less heart-shaped.
Inflorescence of several stalked involucres solitary in the leaf axils; involucres 3 mm long, purplish; glands 4, with short, rounded horns.
Capsules, 5-10 mm long, globose, coarsely wrinkled; seeds 4-6 mm long, brownish, net-veined.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry roadsides and waste places in the lowland zone; rare in SW BC, known only from Victoria and Vancouver; introduced from Europe.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Euphorbia lathyrus L. [orthographic variant]
Galarhoeus lathyris (L.) Haw.
Tithymalus lathyris (L.) Hill

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References