What Is Mole Plant Euphorbia: Information On Grow A Mole Spurge Plant

By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

You’ve probably seen the mole plant euphorbia blooming in pastures or meadows, sometimes in a yellow mass. Of course, if you’re not familiar with the name, this may leave you wondering, “What is a mole plant?”. Read on to find out more.

About Mole Plants

Botanically the mole plant is called Euphorbia lathyris. Other common names are caper spurge, leafy spurge, and gopher spurge.

Caper spurge mole plant is either an annual or biennial plant that exudes latex when cut or broken. It has cup-shaped greenish or yellow flowers. The plant is upright, leaves are linear and bluish green in color. Unfortunately, all parts of mole spurge plant are poisonous. Please don’t mistake it for the plant that produces capers, as some have, since the poison in the caper spurge mole plant can be quite toxic.

Despite its toxicity, various parts of the mole spurge plant have been used medicinally through the years. The seeds were used by French peasants as a purgative, similar to castor oil. Folklore about mole plants says the latex has been used for cancers and warts.

Further information about mole plants says it is a Mediterranean native, brought to the United States for use of repelling rodents in orchards and various other agricultural locations. The mole spurge plant escaped its boundaries and self-seeded rampantly on both the east and west coasts of the U.S.

Mole Spurge Plant in Gardens

If the mole plant euphorbia is growing in your landscape, you may be one of the recipients of self-seeding. Spread may sometimes be controlled by removing flower heads before they go to seed. If you’ve noticed a decline in bothersome rodents or moles in your landscape, you may thank mole plant euphorbia and continue to let it grow.

Each gardener will have to decide if the mole spurge plant is an effective repellent plant or a noxious weed in their landscape. The mole plant euphorbia is not likely to be considered an ornamental by most gardeners or by information about mole plants.

Learning more about mole plants can help you control it should you decide it is not needed as a repellent plant. Control of mole plant can be as simple as digging plants up by the roots before they go to seed. Now you’ve learned what a mole plant is and useful information about mole plant, including its uses.

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1. 1995-8. In Germany we think it [caper spurge] keeps little mice away [Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey, September 2014].

2. I have a friend in Germany who tells me that the German name for caper spurge is Maulwurfvertreiber (= mole deterrent) [South London Botanical Institute, June 2004].

3. My information comes from a geographical region stretching from Yorkshire to Midlothian … The white sap of caper spurge cures warts [Minehead, Somerset, October 1993].

4. Dad used to grow some sort of spurge in the garden which we called ‘Mole Plant’, it was supposed to deter the moles we had in the garden [Itchen, Hampshire, June 1993].

Images: main, Dartford, Kent, January 2015 inset, Kettering station car park, Northamptonshire, August 2015.

Euphorbia lathyris

Euphorbia lathyris, or Caper spurge, is an annual/bienniall herb that flowers from May to June. It can be found in the landscape as a cultivated herbaceous perennial, or weedy in disturbed areas, or escaping in waste places and around buildings. It will grow well in most types of soil and in shade or sun. The plant is self-seeding and can be difficult to remove once established. Leaves alternate below and opposite above and yellow, crescent-shaped, glands on the rim of the cup-shaped "flower" contain large, 3-lobed capsules holding seeds. The growing plant is said to repel mice and moles (hence the common name Mole Plant), although this may be more folklore than fact. Caper spurge is toxic (see below) even though it was once used as a violent purgative.

Caper spurge prefers a light well-drained soil in an open position and although it does best with a dry soil, it will grow almost anywhere. It is rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases, insects, or other problems.

Euphorbia lathyris FarOutFlora CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Euphorbia lathyris Natural England CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Euphorbia lathyris Cynthia Cheney CC BY-NC 2.0 Euphorbia lathyris John Tann CC BY 2.0 Euphorbia lathyris Silvain de Munck CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What is a mole tree?

Moles make tunnels in the lawn and landscape while searching for insects, mainly earthworms and grubs and they will not feed on plants. The likelihood that they have caused the tree problems is low. Even if you are successful in reducing or eliminating a current situation with moles, your efforts will be short-lived.

Subsequently, question is, how do you rid your yard of moles? Mix up a spray of 3 parts castor oil to 1 part dish detergent use 4 tablespoons of this concoction in a gallon of water, and soak the tunnels and the entrances. Dip an ear of corn in roofing tar and place it in one of their tunnels. Moles hate the smell of tar, and you'll block their escape.

Herein, what is the fastest way to get rid of moles in your yard?

There are three methods to use in ridding your lawn of moles:

  1. Eliminate the food source of moles: insects, grubs, worms with a pesticide like Talstar which can be bought here.
  2. Repel the mole.
  3. Use a bait such as Mole Patrol to kill moles.

Can you have a mole as a pet?

Known commonly as a garden pest, moles are not good pets and often die quickly in captivity. However, if you discover an injured mole or a mole that cannot be released into the wild, there are ways you can provide for it. Pour dirt into the terrarium deep enough to provide your mole with digging space.

Natural Ways to Keep Moles Away

Prevention is generally the best form of pest control. There are various home remedies and natural ways to keep moles away using simple household ingredients. Find the best way to keep moles away that suits your needs.

Moles are an important part of the natural environment. They provide natural soil aeration through their tunneling behavior and mix topsoil with deeper and more nutrient-rich layers of soil below the surface.

However, mole activity causes significant problems for homeowners when they take up residence beneath your lawn or vegetable garden. Whether you simply want to relocate them or use a homemade mole killer for lawns, we have a few ideas for you.

How to Make Homemade Mole Repellent

Since moles are virtually blind, they rely heavily on their keen sense of smell. They are repelled by strong odors like castor oil and peppermint. These are the principal ingredients in many commercial rodent repellents.

Follow this recipe to make your own homemade mole repellent. This repellent is effective against gophers and voles, as well.

DIY Mole Repellent

  • ½ cup of castor oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or Tabasco hot sauce
  • 5-6 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • Clean bottle or jar
  • Cotton balls

Combine the ingredients in a clean bottle or jar and shake vigorously to blend. Soak several cotton balls in the mixture for at least 15 minutes. Place the saturated cotton balls into the moles’ holes.

How to Keep Moles Away using Sound and Vibrations

Moles have highly sensitive hearing and are exceptionally perceptive to vibrations in the ground. Loud sounds and vibrations are effective home remedies for keeping moles out of the garden and as a way to get rid of moles in your lawn that you may not have discovered yet.

Many pest control and gardening shops sell ultrasonic devices that emit intermittent vibrations that drive moles away.

Another option is to try installing wind chimes around your garden. The sound is pleasant to your ears and helps encourage moles to burrow elsewhere.

Best Way to Keep Moles Away with Companion Planting

The idea behind companion planting is to use individual plants’ natural properties to support the health of the whole garden and minimize your dependence on insecticides and pesticides.

There is a wide variety of plants that effectively repel moles and other pests. Use your flower bed as your first line of defense against problematic critters and to keep chipmunks out of the garden. Here are several examples of plants that work to deter moles.

Mole Repellent Plants

  • Daffodils
  • Castor bean
  • Marigolds
  • Allium
  • Caper spurge (Euphorbia lathyris or mole plant)
  • Fritillaria

The best way to keep moles away is by creating an environment that doesn’t suit them. Planting these helpful flowers throughout your garden, and especially around the borders, naturally drives moles away without the use of harmful chemicals.

How to Keep Moles Away with Coffee Grounds

Old coffee grounds are instrumental in the garden for many reasons. They are an excellent way to augment your fertilizer routine, as well as an efficient way of dealing with a mole problem.

Sprinkle used coffee granules wherever you see mole activity. Concentrate on the entrance holes to the mole tunnels by placing the coffee grounds directly inside the hole and covering it over with soil to diffuse the coffee’s smell.

Attract Moles’ Predators

One of the most natural ways to keep moles away is to let Mother Nature do the work for you. Owls are one of the moles’ main predators and one of the best home remedies to kill mice that may also make your yard their home.

Try installing a nesting box near your garden in the early spring when owls and other birds of prey begin to look for a nesting site. This way, the owls help control the mole population and other pests like voles, shrews, gophers, rabbits, and mice.

Install Barriers to Deter Moles

Mole tunnels tend to be close to the surface. If you have an ongoing problem with moles in your garden, consider installing a solid barrier around the space to prevent moles from tunneling inside.

Bury hardware cloth, aluminum sheathing, or quarter-inch stainless steel wire mesh at least two feet deep and construct a fence that is at least two feet high. Make your fence at least six feet tall if you’re also trying to keep our larger pests like deer.

How to Make a DIY Mole Trap

If you have a severe mole infestation, you may need to take more drastic measures toward mole removal.

Even if you do need to kill moles, it’s still best to avoid using poison, which is dangerous for pets and children, contaminates the soil, and could kill the predators who may eat a poisoned mole.

One common chemical repellent touted for getting rid of snakes and moles is mothballs. However, these are not very effective, and the chemicals in mothballs are toxic to both humans and pets.

Spring-loaded or choker-loop traps are available at pest control stores. Alternatively, it’s possible to live-trap the moles and relocate them. Follow these straightforward directions to make your own eco-friendly DIY mole trap.

DIY Mole Trap

Find the most active tunneling site. Dig a hole that is slightly more than wide enough to fit the bucket and roughly three inches deeper than the bucket is tall.

Make several holes in the bottom of the bucket so that the moles have a sense of openness below.

Place three to four inches of soil in the bottom of the bucket. Place the bucket in the hole and backfill around the sides with loose soil. Slope the sides toward the top of the bucket.

In the small plastic container, place six to eight earthworms in the bottom with enough soil to keep the worms alive, but not so much that they can escape. Work the container with the worms into the soil at the bottom of the bucket as bait for the moles.

While installing the trap, stand on boards to avoid compacting the surrounding soil. Once you set your trap, cover the top with mulch or turf.

Check the trap every few days, but not too often to not give too much sign of human presence. Wear gloves when assembling, setting, and checking the trap to mask the human scent.

Mole tunnels sometimes cause severe problems for homeowners. They result in plant damage and sometimes lead to other rodent invasions. However, there are various natural ways to keep moles away.

From applying repellents like castor oil and coffee grounds to employing the help of Mother Nature through companion planting and attracting natural predators, mole removal can take many forms.

Use these tips and home remedies and learn the best way to keep moles away from your property.


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Use in the garden

Since it naturally drives away voles, caper spurge is traditionally used in kitchen gardens or in natural gardens. Due to its distinctive growth, the perennial also fits well in modern gardens. Designers often place them in Mediterranean or Asian gardens: There it forms an interesting, green eye-catcher in the bedding center, which ensures strict structures and opens the view upwards.

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