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Euphorbia Lathyris

Euphorbia Lathyris

The Euphorbia Lathyris , caper spurge or paper spurge, is a plant whose seeds are are used to extract an oil that can be used in numerous industrial applications.

The three largest producers are India, China and Brazil, although currently naturalized in almost the entire world.

The common names, among many others are, tartago, catapucia, topera grass, fig of hell, camphor, etc.


Characteristics of the Euphorbia Lathyris.

Euphorbia Lathyris, is a resistant plant, which has as property, the away from the moles, thanks to its toxic roots.

It usually lives in forest habitats and avoids acid soils.

It is an annual / biennial flower that can reach 1.5 meters in height and flowers from May to June. Its stems are, herbaceous, simple or little branched.

You can collect your seeds in July and August and is a plant that has male and female flowers, resulting to be easily pollinated.

The Euphorbia Lathyris is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows to a height of between 30 and 90 cm.

The stem can reach 2 cm in diameter. The leaves are stalkless, smooth texture and dark blue-green.

The midrib, with a paler color, is very characteristic. The leaves are very long and narrow and can reach 15 cm in length.

Towards the crown, the leaves become shorter and take a triangular shape.


The flowers are small and green or yellowish green, without petals. The ripe fruits take a brown or grayish color and resemble ticks.

The stem of the Euphorbia Lathyris ,only branches when it is going to flower and does so in a forked manner, being able to reach up to one meter in height.

Its fruit has a globular form depressed and is divided into three parts that contain numerous black seeds inside.

The Euphorbia Lathyris, will develop better in soils with acid, neutral or alkaline pH.

Its underground part will grow vigorously on substrates with a sandy or clayey texture, since these can generally be kept dry or moist.

The Euphorbia Lathyris  uses flies to pollinate its flowers.

It is a plant very cultivated worldwide, for the uses that its oil has for industrial applications

How to water the Euphorbia Lathyris

We will have to adapt the irrigation looking for to maintain a level of humidity in the constant ground, taking into account the texture of this one, the exhibition to the sun, the environmental humidity, the temperature, etc.

We must emphasize that the Euphorbia Lathyris does not tolerate flooding, so the plantation area must be very well drained.

It adapts easily to different environments, due to its great rusticity and resistance to drought.

As for its lighting needs, it is moderately demanding, it can be placed in a semi-shaded place or with direct exposure to the sun indistinctly.

How to reproduce the Euphorbia Lathyris

The most used method and it seems that the best results it offers is, by seeds, directly after the last frost.

For propagation by seeds, they need to be soaked before being sown to soften their skin.


How to prune the Euphorbia Lathyris

To carry out maintenance pruning, remove withered leaves and stems.

How to fertilise the Euphorbia Lathyris 

This plant requires very little care for the substrate. A light compost must be made before planting.

Uses of the Euphorbia Lathyris 

In addition to ornamental it has Industrial and Medicinal applications as, antiseptics and disinfectants, anti carcinogenic, antiseptic, anti tumor, cathartic, diuretic, emetic, parasiticide and purgative.

There is a saying that is: “One seed causes the purge, several can cause an abortion”.

It seeds has been used mostly as purgative, in medicine and veterinary popular.

It is also attributed the ability, planted in gardens and orchards, to scare off moles, because their roots are toxic to them.

This is one of its most widespread uses.

The main product of the spurge is oil, also called castor oil .

It is an important raw material for the chemical industry, used in the composition of numerous products such as paints, varnishes, cosmetics, lubricants, plastics, etc.

The list of products obtained from spurge oil is very extensive.

In addition, it has more than 100 industrial uses, including lubricants, plastics, soaps, hydraulic fluids and brakes.

It is also used in paints, dyes, varnishes, inks, cold-resistant plastics, varnishes and waxes, nylon, ETC.

In the seeds there is an oil in a proportion of 40-50%, and in the milky sap (latex) of the trunk there is a bitter principle and other substances.

Formerly, the oil extracted from the seeds was used for lamps.

The seeds of the Euphorbia Lathyris or Tártago, are laxative, emetic and fight rheumatism and pertinacious diarrhea, although its use is dangerous.

To collect the fruits with their 3 seeds in each one, the plant should be harvested in the middle of the warm season, taking care, since the latex irritates the eyes and the skin.

After well dried, the plants must thresh to be able to separate the fruits.


The sap of the Euphorbia Lathyris, is milky, toxic and if it contacts with the skin or the eyes it can cause serious irritations, and even temporary blindness.

The sap contains a latex that is toxic on ingestion and very irritating externally.

It causes superficial photosensitive reactions and severe inflammation, especially in contact with eyes or wounds.

The toxicity can remain high even in the dry plant.

Prolonged contact with sap is discouraged due to its carcinogenic nature.

The seed is also toxic.


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