Petty Spurge

Petty Spurge Plant Information

Petty Spurge grows in the following 38 states:

Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, Oregon, West Virginia, Alabama, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington

Outside of its native range it is very widely naturalised and often invasive, including in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and other countries in temperate and sub-tropical regions.Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge,radium weed,cancer weed, or milkweed) is a species of Euphorbia, native to most of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, where it typically grows in cultivated arable land, gardens, and other disturbed land.

It is an annual plant growing to between 5-30cm tall (most plants growing as weeds of cultivation tend towards the smaller end), with smooth hairless stems. The leaves are oval-acute, 1-3cm long, with a smooth margin. It has green flowers in three-rayed umbels. The glands, typical of the Euphorbiaceae, are kidney-shaped with long thin horns.
The plant's sap is toxic to rapidly replicating human tissue, and has long been used as a traditional remedy for common skin lesions, including cancer. The active ingredient in the sap is a diterpene ester called ingenol mebutate. A pharmaceutical-grade ingenol mebutate gel has approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of actinic keratosis.

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