Plant with single red/green stem 

Plant showing alternate leaves

Leaves, flowers and capsules all blend visually

The stem when snapped exude white sap.

Seed capsule and flower at the end of a stem

Scientific Name

Euphorbia peplus  L.



Common Names

petty spurge


Europe and Asia




Distinguishing Characteristics

This is an erect, bright green herb, usually no higher than 20cm. It mostly has only one stem at the base which is red/green, smooth and hairless. The stem divides into branches and each branch divides 3-5 times.

The stem leaves grow alternately however the leaves on the upper branches are opposite. Leaves are quite variable in shape and are pear-shaped to triangular or rhombic.

The flower is green and is a very small cyathia which is a reduced unisexual flower surrounded by bracts (modified leaves). The flowers are very difficult to see as they look, at a glance, like new leaves forming at the end of each stem.

This plant flowers most of the year.

The seed capsule is also green and around 2 mm across.

The stem when broken or when a leaf is removed exudes a white sticky sap.

This is a very common weed.

Other plants easily confused with this plant

This plant is quite distinctive.

Sources & References

"Weeds - an illustrated botanical guide to weeds of Australia" by B. A. Auld and R. W. Medd

"Flora of New South Wales" editor Gwen J. Harden, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

"Gardener's Companion to Weeds" by Suzanne Ermert and Leigh Clapp



Prepared by Justin KY Chu, July 2005

Checked by IEWF, July 2006