Information on Petty Spurge

Common Name: Petty Spurge
Scientific Name: Euphorbia peplus
Irish Name: Gearr nimhe
Family Group: Euphorbiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Petty Spurge could sometimes be confused with:

Spurge, Sun,

Sharing the same habitat and frequently confused with Sun Spurge, Petty Spurge is slightly smaller, reaching a height of 30 cm at most. I found it easiest to tell them apart, initially, by counting the rays in the umbel which in the case of Petty Spurge is three, whereas with Sun Spurge there are five. This wildflower, which grows on waste ground, by roadsides and in cracks in pavements as well as in gardens, is an erect, hairless bright-green annual. It bears tiny greenish flowers which have neither petals nor sepals but oval bracts, similar to leaves, and little horned kidney-shaped glands. The umbels which bear the flowers have three unstalked, spoon-shaped bracts at their base and the leaves are oval, with blunt tips. Blooming from April to November, this is an introduced species and it belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. 

I first identified this plant growing in Dalkey, Co Dublin in 2009 and I photographed it in 2010. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Spurge, Petty
Spurge, Petty

The white latex which is contained in the stems, is quite caustic and is used in preparations for the removal of warts and veruccas