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Old September 22nd, 2009, 03:25 PM
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Another mystery plant

Okay, I have no idea what this plant is. A neighbour gave it to me and said if I had it in the yard I wouldn't have moles. Well I have it in the yard and the moles don't care. The plant kind of grows like an inverted pyramid, and has these little balls that look like flower or seed pods but none have opened or anything. Any clues?
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 06:21 PM
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It is Caper Spurge (Euphorbia lathyris), also often called mole plant. You are probably better off with the moles than with this plant. It is pretty darn toxic and can induce violent vomiting. Caper seeds were commonly used, but an oil extracted from them was also used, in very small doses, as it is highly toxic.

In the past, the milky latex of the Caper Spurge was used as a depilatory (hair removal) and to remove corns.

The leaves of the Caper Spurge was used by beggars to raise unsightly sores on their skin, thereby increasing their chances of eliciting pity and alms.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caper_spurge gives you more information about it.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 10:05 AM
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Holy Cow! I had no idea it was toxic - Thanks Marcha. I'm going to tell DH to take it out tonight. It appears I am now collecting poisonous plants. We recently bought two Angel Trumpets at a farmers market from a fellow from a nursery and he never told us they were toxic also. I'm so annoyed.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 04:25 PM
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Forgot to ask you Marcha how you knew that?? I'm impressed!
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 06:31 PM
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In this case I cheated and forwarded the photo to a group of people who are buffs. They told me the name. I know the plant however, and I couldn't answer you because I didn't know the name.

I love my garden, and I love plants. I worked for a landscaper in my spare time in Holland. But I have this thing where I know a lot of the plant names in Dutch, but not English, or I know part of the Latin name from 10 years ago (Latin names sometimes change). So I go nuts when I can't find the English or Latin name. The other thing is that I often know that I know the name in Dutch, but it's on the tip of my tongue and can't quite manage to remember... that makes me obsessive about finding out the English or Latin name.

When I saw your photo, I knew something was missing in the pic but couldn't put my finger on it. I couldn't get the name because of the missing part, but I knew that I knew what kind of plant it was and it didn't look the same as what I didn't know that I knew that I knew. (did that make sense??) Once I knew the name of the plant and confirmed the name by looking at other images online, I knew what it was that was missing in my mind to get the name... the lower leaves of the mole plant are not anywhere the same as the upper leaves. And I have been pulling mole plant seedlings from my yard all spring and summer... even though I didn't have a clue that they'd look like the plant in your picture. Look up Caper Spurge on google images, and you'll see that the bottom part of a seedling/young plant looks entirely different than what you posted... So I knew the plant but I didn't know the plant. My mole plants that I've been pulling look entirely different than the mature and seeding mole plant that you've got there.

Convoluted eh?
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Old September 24th, 2009, 10:01 AM
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Boy ask a simple question.... I get it though. I have the same trouble as you but with Italian. I speak English and French and DH is Italian. Many vegetables now that we eat I know the Italian names for. I went shopping one day and the clerk was trying to remember the name of the fresh fennel that I bought and I could only think of it in Italian. I felt so silly because I couldn't tell it was Finoccio (not sure of the spelling in Italian). I'd never really used fennel until I got together with DH so the English name was in my head but wouldn't come out.
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