Petty Spurge - Euphorbia peplus


    Plant up to 20 cm with an erect stem, the base of which is red/green, smooth and hairless, and exudes a white sticky sap when broken. 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. The flower is green and is very small and 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.

    Similar Species

    Euphorbia helioscopia is a similar small spurge

    Identification difficulty
    ID guidance

    Small annual plant; glabrous, ovate leaves; glands on the cyathium (the cup shaped structure that bears the male and female flowers) are concave on the outer edge, with two points


    Cultivated fields, gardens and allotments.

    When to see it

    April to October.

    Life History


    UK Status

    Common in England and Wales, but scarce in Scotland.

    VC55 Status

    Common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 417 of the 617 tetrads.

    In the current checklist (Jeeves, 2011) it is listed as Alien, archaeophyte; locally frequent

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    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

    Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
    Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

    UK Map