Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Caper Spurge - Euphorbia lathyris   L.
Members of Euphorbiaceae:
Members of Euphorbia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Euphorbiales » Family Euphorbiaceae
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DistributionMostly the Mountains; also Guilford County.

Native of the Mediterranean area; in N.A. widely distributed but essentially absent from midland plains.
AbundanceUncommon in the Mountains; very rare elsewhere.
HabitatYard weed, roadsides, pasture, "moist cove near hotel."
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-August.
IdentificationThis is a strange-looking plant in a family noted for strangeness. The stems are usually single, 1.5-3 (or more) feet tall, and they bleed copious white latex when cut. The leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, linear, abundant, glabrous, and often with a white midvein. Upward on the stem, the leaves become broader at the base, and eventually become narrowly triangular. The inflorescence is terminal, usually branched, and noted for pale green, broadly triangular, leaf-like bracts with overlapping bases and sharp tips. The actual flowers are small and inconspicuous. Weird indeed!
Taxonomic Comments
Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieRobinson Crusoe Island, Chile, Dec 2016, weed in town. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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