It is commonly known as Caper Spurge. Euphorbia lathyris is an ornamental biennial plant with upright unbranched stems which carry four rows of rigidly arranged deep green leaves. It is fast growing and can grow up to 120cm tall. As a biennial, it will send up stems of leaves in its first year and flower in its second year. The flowers themselves tend to be inconspicuous and are yellow-green in colour. The seeds grow in green clusters of three seeds. When they ripen, they dry out and turn brown, looking a little like Capers, they give them their common name of the Caper Spurge. It will readily self-seed, so the flowers are often removed as they fade to prevent the garden becoming a forest of its seedlings.
Leaves contain quercetin, quercetin-3-b-D-glucuronide, kaempferol, kaempferol 3- glucuronide, b-sitosterol, p-coumaric acid, and ferulic acid. Stalks contain hentriacontane, taraxerone, taraxerol, b-sitosterol, and betulin. The energy-promising latex contains 0.5% 3, 4-dioxyphenylalanine. Sachs et al. (1981) got 6.2% rosin content (hydrocarbons) in non-irrigated, compared to 4.4% on irrigated plots.
It is native of Europe; introduced and naturalized in eastern United States from southern New England to Ohio, south to North Carolina, and in California, having spread from cultivation to roadsides, waste places etc.
A homoeopathic mother tincture is prepared from the whole plant. It is covered by Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of United States.
It is useful in dropsy, oedema, tumours, amenorrhoea, schistosomiasis, scabies and snake bites. According to a report it is also useful in leukaemia. In northern America this drug is used to cause abortion. Dr. W. Boericke indicates its use in erysipelas. It also has therapeutic value in paralytic weakness of knee joints. It is reported that it removes corns. It is being used as depilatory (a substance used to remove unwanted hair).
Recommended dose: Q/1x 5 drops. 3rd to 30th potency
Caution: Do not consume during pregnancy.
- P. N. Varma, Indu Vaid, Encyclopaedia of Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia, Updated edition 2007, B. Jain Publishers, New Delhi.
- Andrew Chevallier, The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, 1st Edition, 1996, Dorling Kindersley, London.
- Purdue University, Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops, source https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Euphorbia_lathyris.html
- Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement) New Delhi: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. 3rd reprint, 1992. Vol. 2
- Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas, Publisher- Institute of Chinese Medicine, 1995
- Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers, Publisher- Facts on File, 1993