Page author: David Giblin
Euphorbia lathyris
mole plant, gopher plant, caper spurge

Distribution: Occurring chiefly west of the Cascades crest in Washington; British Columbia to California east to Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Texas; widely distributed in eastern North America.

Habitat: Disturbed soil and wasteland.

Flowers: April-May

Origin: Introduced from Eurasia

Growth Duration: Annual

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bees, wasps


Glabrous and glaucous annual, the stems erect, fleshy, dichotomously branched, 3-10 dm. tall.


Leaves opposite, numerous, narrowly oblong, 6-12 cm. long and sessile near the stem base; leaves broadened upward on the stem, becoming ovate.


Flowers tiny, monoecious, borne in axillary involucres; staminate flowers numerous, naked, each consisting of a single stamen; pistillate flower single and terminal in the involucre; involucre about 3 mm. long, purplish, bearing 4 glands with short, rounded horns.


Capsule globose, coarsely wrinkled, 5-10 mm. long, separating into three 1-seeded segments.

Accepted Name:
Euphorbia lathyris L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 457. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Euphorbia lathyrus L., orthographic variant [HC]
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Euphorbia lathyris in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Euphorbia lathyris checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Euphorbia lathyris information.

E-Flora BC: Euphorbia lathyris atlas page.

CalPhotos: Euphorbia lathyris photos.

USDA Plants: Euphorbia lathyris information.

18 photographs:
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