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Common (vernacular) names applied to California vascular plants

compiled by Elizabeth Painter

up to date as of May 1, 2016

Common names (also referred to as vernacular names) are applied differently at different times and places by different users. This list is compiled from many sources and is intended to be as comprehensive as possible. It is not intended to indicate which common name is correct or preferred. Please send comments about this page to Elizabeth Painter (

TaxonEuphorbia lathyris
Family common name(s)euphorb; spurge; spurges
Genus common name(s)euphorbia; spurge; wolf's-milk; wolf's milk; wolfs-milk; wolfs milk; wolfsmilk; wolf-milk; wolf milk; wolfmilk
Species common name(s)caper euphorbia; caper spurge; gopher purge; anti-gopher plant; antigopher plant; mole spurge; mole purge; mole-tree; mole tree; mole-weed; mole weed; paper spurge; sassy jack; Virgin's milk
Common name(s) generally applied to other taxa or multiple taxagopher spurge, gopher plant, gopher-plant, gopherplant are applied to multiple Euphorbia taxa; mole-plant, moleplant, mole plant, tithymal, thymalos are applied to multiple Euphorbiaceae taxa; myrtle spurge is more commonly applied to Euphorbia myrsinites; gopher-weed, gopher weed, gopherweed, compass-plant, compass plant, compassplant, milkweed, milk-weed, milk weed are applied to taxa in multiple families; caper bush, wild caper are more commonly applied to Capparis spinosa
Synonymy: The Jepson Manual (1993), FNA, PLANTS, etcTithymalus lathyris (L.) Hill
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