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caper spurge, gopher plant, gopher spurge, mole plant

Habit Herbs, annual or biennial, with taproot.

erect, unbranched or branched, 200 cm, glabrous, glaucous.


opposite, decussate;

petiole absent;

blade linear to oblong-lanceolate, 30–120 × 3–25 mm, base acute, rounded, cordate or clasping, margins entire, apex acute or subobtuse, sometimes mucronate, surfaces glabrous, abaxial ± glaucous;

venation pinnate, midvein prominent.


campanulate, 1.2–2.3 × 1.4–2.5 mm, glabrous;

glands 4, elliptic, 0.3–0.6 × 1–1.3 mm;

horns divergent, thick, tips rounded, dilated, 0.5–1.4 mm.

Staminate flowers


Pistillate flowers

ovary glabrous;

styles 0.7–2.2 mm, 2-fid.


depressed-globose, 9–12 × 12–16 mm, deeply 3-lobed, tardily dehiscent and appearing indehiscent, mesocarp spongy;

cocci rounded, smooth, glabrous;

columella 4–5.2 mm.


brownish or blackish, oblong, 4.5–6 × 3–4.2 mm, rugose, irregularly reticulate;

caruncle substipitate, hat-shaped, 1.6–2 × 1.2–1.5 mm.


arrangement: terminal pleiochasial branches 2–4, each 1–2 times 2-branched;

pleiochasial bracts cordate-lanceolate, shorter and wider than distal leaves;

dichasial bracts distinct, ovate-oblong to lanceolate, base subcordate, margins entire, apex acute;

axillary cymose branches 0–10.


peduncle 0–0.5 mm.

Euphorbia lathyris

Phenology Flowering and fruiting winter–fall.
Habitat Roadsides, cultivated fields, stream banks, waste places.
Elevation 0–1800 m. [0–5900 ft.]
from FNA
AZ; CA; CT; ID; IL; MA; MD; MT; NC; OH; OR; PA; SC; TN; TX; VA; WA; WV; BC; ON; QC; Europe; Asia; Africa [Introduced in North America; introduced also in Mexico, South America, Australia]
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[BONAP county map]

Euphorbia lathyris is most likely native to the central and eastern Mediterranean region, but it is widely cultivated and often locally escaped in temperate regions worldwide, as in the flora area.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 12, p. 304.
Parent taxa Euphorbiaceae > Euphorbia > subg. Esula
Sibling taxa
E. aaron-rossii, E. abramsiana, E. acuta, E. agraria, E. albomarginata, E. alta, E. angusta, E. antisyphilitica, E. arizonica, E. astyla, E. austrotexana, E. bicolor, E. bifurcata, E. bilobata, E. blodgettii, E. bombensis, E. brachycera, E. capitellata, E. carunculata, E. chaetocalyx, E. chamaesula, E. cinerascens, E. commutata, E. conferta, E. cordifolia, E. corollata, E. crenulata, E. cumulicola, E. cuphosperma, E. curtisii, E. cyathophora, E. cyparissias, E. davidii, E. deltoidea, E. dendroides, E. dentata, E. discoidalis, E. eriantha, E. exigua, E. exserta, E. exstipulata, E. falcata, E. fendleri, E. florida, E. floridana, E. garberi, E. georgiana, E. geyeri, E. glyptosperma, E. golondrina, E. gracillima, E. graminea, E. helioscopia, E. helleri, E. heterophylla, E. hexagona, E. hirta, E. hooveri, E. humistrata, E. hypericifolia, E. hyssopifolia, E. indivisa, E. innocua, E. inundata, E. ipecacuanhae, E. jaegeri, E. jejuna, E. laredana, E. lasiocarpa, E. lata, E. longicruris, E. lurida, E. macropus, E. maculata, E. marginata, E. meganaesos, E. melanadenia, E. mendezii, E. mercurialina, E. mesembrianthemifolia, E. micromera, E. misera, E. missurica, E. myrsinites, E. nephradenia, E. nutans, E. oblongata, E. ocellata, E. ophthalmica, E. ouachitana, E. parishii, E. parryi, E. pediculifera, E. peplidion, E. peplus, E. perennans, E. pergamena, E. pinetorum, E. platyphyllos, E. platysperma, E. polycarpa, E. polygonifolia, E. polyphylla, E. porteriana, E. prostrata, E. pubentissima, E. purpurea, E. radians, E. rayturneri, E. revoluta, E. roemeriana, E. rosescens, E. schizoloba, E. serpens, E. serpillifolia, E. serrata, E. serrula, E. setiloba, E. simulans, E. spathulata, E. stictospora, E. strictior, E. telephioides, E. terracina, E. tetrapora, E. texana, E. theriaca, E. thymifolia, E. tithymaloides, E. trachysperma, E. trichotoma, E. vallis-mortae, E. velleriflora, E. vermiculata, E. villifera, E. virgata, E. wrightii, E. yaquiana
Synonyms Galarhoeus lathyris, Tithymalus lathyris
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 457. (1753)
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