Sun Spurge

(Euphorbia helioscopia). The common garden weed, which generations of children have gathered, to put the milky juice on the warts on their fingers. If they suck their fingers afterwards, there will be an acute burning sensation in the mouth (Forsyth). This use on warts is very widespread. In East Anglia, sun spurge, dandelion and greater celandine were the three plants used (G E Evans. 1966). But not in that order, for sun spurge is the least popular. It is used in Brittany, too, but it has to be picked from the path along which a funeral has passed, and it has to be found by chance, (Sebillot). There was ritual in the use in Ireland, too - in County Clare the juice had to be applied seven times, with appropriate prayers being said, and there was a further proscription, for it had to be picked at a particular unspecified period of the sun and moon in August (Westropp. 1911). There is recorded a domestic use of a decoction of sun spurge for ringworm (Dyer. 1889, Trevelyan). Gerard recommended it "to stop hollow teeth, being put into them warily, so that you touch neither the gums, nor any of the other teeth in the mouth ..."

It is known as Whitlow-grass in Lincolnshire (Britten & Holland), but it is difficult to imagine anyone willingly putting spurge juice on a whitlow.

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