Caper Spurge

Euphorbia lathyrus
Family: Euphorbiaceae

Growth Habit: An erect, single to multi-stemmed plant. It has a characteristic milky, latex-like sap that may cause extreme skin irritation and damage to sensitive areas such as the eyes.

Type of Plant: Caper spurge is an annual herb which can grow up to 150cm tall. It germinates in autumn and spring.

Flowers: Caper spurge has tiny green flowers, which are often hard to distinguish from the leaves.

Fruit/Seed: Three-segmented capsules are produced which contain numerous seeds.

Dispersal: Capsules split open releasing the seeds close to the parent.

Distribution: Caper spurge is usually found in neglected gardens, roadsides and wastelands.

Status: Secondary/prohibited in Tasmania.

Weed Impact:

  • Caper spurge has been associated with stock poisoning.
  • Its milky latex-like sap is heavy in alkaloids and can cause irritation and swelling to the human body, particularly sensitive areas such as the eyes.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Water and Environment, Tasmania.

Control Methods:

  • Grubbing (all year). As this plant can cause skin irritations, gloves should be worn or a hoe used when manually removing.
  • Herbicide (spring, summer and autumn). Herbicides registered in Tasmania include MCPA, Dicamba and glyphosate.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.