T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Euphorbia lathyris (Caper spurge)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia
Species: E. lathyris
Binomial name: Euphorbia lathyris
Common names: Caper spurge, Paper spurge, Gopher spurge, Gopher plant, Mole plant, Myrtle spurge

Warning: The milky sap or latex of Euphorbia plant is highly toxic and an irritant to the skin and eye. It the multitude of di- and triterpenes. People who handle Euphorbia plants should wear eye and skin protection. Invisible vapours of the sap can cause discomfort, you should provide for adequate aeration.
Visit http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/plants-toxic-if-eaten-by-man.html

Euphorbia lathyris is a species of spurge native to southern Europe (France, Italy, Greece, and possibly southern England), northwest Africa, and eastward through southwest Asia to western China.
Away from its native range, it is widely naturalised in many regions, where it is often considered an invasive weed. It is classed a weed pest in New Zealand. Its habitat is waste places, bare and cultivated ground and gardens. In New Zealand, it is widespread throughout the North Island. In the South Island, it is common in Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago, especially in the old goldfields.

Euphorbia lathyris is a dicotyledonous herb that is a glabrous, erect annual to biennial. It stems are up to 30–150 cm high. They are usually not branched at base.
The bluish-green leaves are arranged in decussate opposite pairs, and are lanceolate, 5–15 cm long and 1-2.5 cm broad, glaucous and have a waxy texture and pale greenish-white midrib and veins.
The flowers are green to yellow-green, 4 mm diameter, with no petals. The seeds are green ripening brown or grey, produced in globular clusters 13–17 mm diameter of three seeds compressed together.

Euphorbia lathyris is poisonous to humans and most livestock
All parts of the plant, including the seeds and roots, are poisonous. Handling may cause skin irritation as the plant produces a poisonous milky sap that contains 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. Prolonged and regular contact with the sap is inadvisable because of its carcinogenic nature.

The seed capsules

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and Information:  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/