Euphorbia lathyris

Euphorbia lathyris

Caper Spurge
Binomial: Euphorbia lathyris
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Light requirements: Full sun to part shade
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9
Weediness: Weedy
Pollination: Insects
Ripe Seed: Dry out and turn brown
Height and spread: 48 inches (1.2 m) tall
Toxicity and edibility: Toxic, sap may cause rashes

Euphorbia lathyris (Caper Spurge, Gopher Spurge, Gopher Plant or Mole Plant) is a weedy plant native to Southern Europe (France, Italy, Greece) and as far east as China, but has naturalized in many other regions. that is often used as an ornamental plant and also to protect a garden from gophers.

All parts of the plant, including the seeds and roots are poisonous. Handling may may cause skin irritation as the plant produces latex. While poisonous to humans and most livestock, goats seem to enjoy eating it and are immune to the toxin. However, the toxin can be passed through the goat’s milk.


Caper spurge can grow up to 48 inches (1.2 m) tall. The seeds of this plant grow in green clusters of three seeds. When they ripen, they dry out and turn brown.

Growing Conditions

It lives in partial shade to full sun in USDA zones 5–9.


Some people have had great success planting caper spurges as repellants for gophers and voles, while others found that gophers will eat other plants only a few feet away while completely ignoring the spurges.


Self-seeds freely, but easily pulled.

Pests and Diseases

See Euphorbia for a list of pests and diseases affecting the genus.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Euphorbia lathyris

  • CDFA.CA.GOV Euphorbia Genus
  • Caper Spurge – Poisonous Plant Information

Gopher Spurge (Euphorbia lathyris) seeds, Organic

Family: Spurge (Euphorbiaceae)

Hardy to Zones 5 to 12

(Mole Plant, Caper Spurge, Gopher Plant, Paper Spurge, Petroleum Plant) Erect evergreen annual or biennial to 3 feet tall. My plants in this Zone 7 garden almost always prove to be biennials. Self-seeding. Native to the Mediterranean basin and Europe, widely grown in gardens. The plant is considered to be an invasive weed by some authorities, but most gardeners will grow it without fear. It is a fascinating plant! First and foremost, do be careful with all parts of this plant, which are filled with an acrid latex that will burn skin and eyes and cause great intestinal irritation if ingested. Wash hands after handling the plant, especially if the latex gets on your hands. If the latex gets in your eyes, then flush eyes immediately with a copious stream of fresh milk. Beyond the cautions, this is a really handsome, interesting and potentially useful plant. The erect stem bears opposite pairs of lance-shaped leaves colored intensely blue-green. The flowers are yellow, giving way to the sectioned pods that hold the seeds. The plant prefers full sun to part shade and does fine in regular garden soil or poor soil. It is quite drought tolerant. Sow seed in the spring, in pots or directly in the garden. Cover with 1/2 inch of soil, tamp firmly and keep warm and moist until germination, which occurs in 1 to 6 weeks. Thin to a foot apart.
Packet contains 10 seeds
10 g contains ~230 seeds
Certified Organically Grown

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