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Uses

Toxic parts

The sap contains a latex which is toxic on ingestion and highly irritant externally, causing photosensitive skin reactions and severe inflammation, especially on contact with eyes or open cuts. The toxicity can remain high even in dried plant material[1]. Prolonged and regular contact with the sap is inadvisable because of its carcinogenic nature[2]. The seed is also poisonous[3].

Edible uses

Notes

The seed has been used as a substitute for capers. It is very acrid and requires long steeping in salt and water, and afterwards in vinegar[4]. Great caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Material uses

A fine clear oil is obtained from the seed[5][6]. Yields of 42% have been obtained[7]. The oil rapidly goes rancid and acquires a dangerous acrimony[5]. It is a violent poison, producing violent purging and irritation to the intestines[5]. It can be used medicinally when fresh[5].

A latex in the leaves can be converted into vehicle fuel[8]. Reports suggest potential yields of fuel ranging from 5 to 125 barrels per hectare[9].

The growing plant is said to repel mice and moles, this is said to be most effective in its second year of growth though lots of reports cast doubt on this ability[10][11][12][8].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Caper spurge was used in the past as a violent purgative, whilst the rubefacient action of the leaves was employed by beggars to raise unsightly sores on their skins to elicit pity and thereby obtain more money[13]. All parts of the plant are emetic and purgative[5][14][11] and the plant is nowadays considered to be far too toxic for it to be used medicinally[15].

The latex in the stems has been used externally as a depilatory and to remove corns, but it is too irritant to be used safely[14][13]. The seed is diuretic, parasiticide and purgative[16][9]. It has been used in the treatment of dropsy, oedema, tumours, amenorrhoea, schistosomiasis, scabies and snake bites[16][7]. The fresh seed has an antitumor action, effective against acute lymphocytic and granulocytic leukaemia[16]. The plant has anticancer activity[9]. It is also antiseptic, cathartic, emetic and purgative[9].

Use the plant with caution[5][14][11]. One seed capsule is said to cause catharsis, several to cause an abortion[17].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in situ. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 3 weeks at 20°c.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Euphorbia lathyris. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Prefers a light well-drained soil in an open position[1]. Prefers a dry soil but grows almost anywhere[18].

Often self-sows freely[18][19]. Formerly cultivated for its fruit[19] - for the oil contained in the fruit according to another report[6]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[20].

This genus has been singled out as a potential source of latex (for making rubber) for the temperate zone, though no individual species has been singled out[21].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Euphorbia lathyris. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Euphorbia lathyris.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Euphorbia lathyris
Genus
Euphorbia
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
6
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    1 x meters
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type
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    References

    1. ? 1.01.11.2 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    2. ? Matthews. V. The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994. Royal Horticultural Society ISBN 1352-4186 (1994-00-00)
    3. ? Cooper. M. and Johnson. A. Poisonous Plants in Britain and their Effects on Animals and Man. HMSO ISBN 0112425291 (1984-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.15.25.35.45.55.65.7 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.2 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.17.27.3 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.18.2 Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987. ()
    9. ? 9.09.19.29.39.49.5 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.211.311.4 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds. Frederick Muller Ltd ISBN 0-584-10141-4 (1977-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.113.2 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.114.214.3 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.116.216.3 Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2624-6 (1993-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.119.2 Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
    20. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
    21. ? Carruthers. S. P. (Editor) Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK. Centre for Agricultural Strategy, Univ. of Reading ISBN 0704909820 (1986-00-00)
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