Caper Spurge; Euphorbia lathyris

Caper Spurge is more of a garden weed than a wild flower, it used to grow in my previous garden and of course I never took a photograph of it.

This photograph was taken by Howard Beck who produces some excellent photos of wild flowers , mainly form his local area of Yorkshire.

This species along with other spurge species produces a white viscous liquid when damaged and in the  case of this species it is very caustic, causing burning of the skin and severe damage if you inadvertently get it in your eyes. Advice on gardening web sites and books normally advise the wearing of protective gloves if you are removing it from your garden.   I was never aware of this when it grew in my garden in Hertfordshire, I knew it produced the white sap but not that it was so toxic.

The other thing I was not aware of is that it is supposed to deter moles, not that I was particularly pestered by them, perhaps that was because the Caper Spurge was keeping them at bay.  I should perhaps have passed a few seeds on to my Father in Law, he had a lot of trouble with moles, particularly at his house in France. The Caper Spurge would have probably done quite well in France as it is a native of Southern Europe;  France, Italy and across to Greece, also North Africa.

In the UK it has a scattered distribution with Hertfordshire and London  favoured along with areas along the English Welsh border, apart from these three zones it has a mixed   presence elsewhere and shows a marked decrease as you get further north.

Recently I have come across this plant in several places, Guildford, a little hamlet in France very close to where we have a holiday cottage and very recently I found it growing just down the road from where I live in Gloucestershire. So no need for the photo from Howard Beck, but as he was so kind as to allow me to use his photo when I did not have one of my own I have left it in pride of place at the beginning of this article. Below are a few of my own photos.

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