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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

27 June, 2015

Petty Spurge: the cancer weed | Nature Notes from Dorset

Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus) is another plant gardeners consider to be a scourge! It is certainly our most common Euphorbia, even more so than the familiar sun spurge. It occurs not only in gardens, of course, but in cultivated ground everywhere and is very difficult to eradicate being one of those flowers that, as you pull them out, you help it spread its seeds!
This is a small plant, petty being a corruption of the French 'petite', and it appears to have no flowers at all but it does; they are green like the leaves around them and so are not immediately obvious. This plant flowers from April through until November but it can easily survive all winter in mild weather or in sheltered locations.
In common with some other Euphorbia it has a white sap in its stems which is highly toxic and it has been used to treat some forms of skin cancer

Read more: Petty Spurge: the cancer weed | Nature Notes from Dorset