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Weed Identification




Scientific Name

Euphorbia lathyris

Other Common Names:

caper spurge

Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Galarhoeus lathyris
Tithymalus lathyris


Lanceolate in outline, without hairs, approximately 2 1/2 to 6 inches long, 1/4 to 1 inch wide. Leaves are arranged oppositely and are without petioles (sessile). Leaves also have conspicuous white midveins. Leaves near the upper flowers are much shorter and triangular in outline. Leaves emit a milky sap when broken

Identifying Characteristics

An annual with opposite, lanceolate leaves that is often grown as an ornamental. All parts of these plants emit a milky sap when broken. Erect plants with lanceolate leaves with a conspicuous white midvein. Additionally, the fact that these plants emit a milky sap when cut readily identifies them as a Euphorbia species. Caper spurge is often confused with leafy spurge, however leafy spurge is a perennial with lateral root buds and does not have the conspicuous white midveins like those of caper spurge

Flower Seed Head

Flowers are relatively inconspicuous and occur in the upper portions of the plant. Flowers are green to greenish yellow in color

Seed Fruit

A smooth capsule that is 8 to 10 mm long.

Where Found

Caper spurge occasionally occurs as a weed of landscapes, roadsides, and pastures, but is not very common. Caper spurge is found throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and West Virginia.

Life Cycle

summer annual

Plant Type