Petty spurge

Petty Spurge

©Fergus Ray Murray

Petty spurge

Scientific name: Euphorbia peplus
Petty spurge is found on cultivated ground, such as gardens, fields and waste ground. It displays cup-shaped, green flowers in clusters and oval, green leaves.

Species information


Height: up to 30cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Petty spurge is a common plant of cultivated ground, such as gardens, fields and waste ground, and is sometimes considered a weed. Its unusual flowers appear between April and October and, when ripe, its seeds are dispersed in an explosive way. These seeds are very persistent and ones as old as 50, or even 100, years have reportedly germinated.

How to identify

The greeny-yellow flowers of Petty spurge have no petals or sepals, but are held in cup-shaped bracts and appear in clusters; its leaves are oval and green.


Found throughout the UK, but scarce in Scotland.

Did you know?

As with other spurges, Petty spurge produces a milky white sap which is toxic; in other parts of the world, these saps have been used to tip poisoned arrows.

How people can help

Although they might not look especially wildlife-friendly, our roadside verges, railway cuttings and waste grounds can provide valuable habitats for all kinds of plants and animals. The Wildlife Trusts are involved in many projects to make these places as beneficial for wildlife as possible. We have a vision of a Living Landscape: a network of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.