Euphorbia lathyris L.

Caper Spurge

Sp. Pl. 457 (1753) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Erect biennial herb 50–150 cm high, glabrous, more or less glaucous; stems solitary, often with a few sterile branches at base and numerous fertile branches from upper axils. Cauline leaves sessile, opposite, decussate, linear to oblong-lanceolate, 2–15 cm long, 5–25 mm wide, apex acute to obtuse, base sometimes slightly cordate, margins entire; leaves on fertile branches triangular to ovate, to 6 cm long, 4 cm wide, base asymmetrically cordate. Cyathia solitary, in upper axils of fertile branches; peduncles to c. 1 mm long; involucre conical, c. 2.5 mm long; glands lunate, c. 2 mm long, with 2 clavate, horn-like appendages; female flowers with styles divided to middle into 2 filiform recurved stigmas. Capsule ellipsoid-globose, 9–13 mm long, 12–16 mm wide, ridged, smooth, spongy outside; seeds ovoid, 5–6 mm long, reticulate-rugulose, brown or grey, caruncle peltate, cup-like. Flowers Aug.–Jan.

*CVU, *DunT, *EGL, *EGU, *GipP, *Gold, *HNF, *HSF, *OtP, *Strz, *VRiv, *VVP, *WaP. Also naturalised Wa, SA, NSW, ACT, Tas. Native to Europe. Sometimes cultivated as an ornamental and widely naturalised.

The alternative spelling (lathyrus) of the epithet is an orthographic error corrected by Linnaeus in 1762.

Source: Jeanes, J.A. (1999). Euphorbiaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 4, Cornaceae to Asteraceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-06-18
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Malpighiales
family Euphorbiaceae
genus Euphorbia
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Euphorbia lathyris in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Euphorbia lathyris in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Victorian Riverina present naturalised
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Otway Plain present naturalised
Warrnambool Plain present naturalised
Goldfields present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present naturalised
Dundas Tablelands present introduced
East Gippsland Lowlands present naturalised
East Gippsland Uplands present naturalised
Highlands-Southern Fall present naturalised
Highlands-Northern Fall present naturalised
Strzelecki Ranges present introduced

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory