Poison Flower Fairies: Euphorbia Lathyris, Fairy of the Caper Spurge

Artwork details: Gouache, 13.2 x 19.5 inches (34 x 50 cm), 2012.

And so, another Poison Flower Fairy Fairy spreads her wings... I suspect she may squeak a bit as she flies, in her all-over latex outfit, but, given the dangers of this particular genus of plants, this is a small price to pay for the safety of inhabiting the Caper Spurge.

Painting in Gouache: 'Euphorbia Lathyris, Fairy of the Caper Spurge'

The trouble with Euphorbias is their sap, which is not only toxic, but can cause severe skin reaction and damage to eyes, which explains why my fairy is wearing goggles, too. I have this plant growing here and there in my garden, and it readily oozes toxic sap at the least damage. So I have furnished my fairy with the latest in latex catsuits, goggles, and, of course, a nice pair of rubber gloves.

'Euphorbia Lathyris, Fairy of the Caper Spurge' - close-up of painting

The interesting thing though, is that latex - natural rubber - is exactly what the sap stuff is that comes out of this plant. Usually latex as we know it comes from the rubber tree, but it would be rather nice to think that a defence from the plant's sap can be made from the sap itself. A bit of googling has provided no answer to this, though I did come across the fascinating story that the use of natural rubber goes back as far as the Mayan civilization, about 1600BC, who used it to make rubber balls. Almost more curious, according to the same site the first (unsuccessful) attempts at rubber flooring date back to the 13th Century! Almost makes me want to tap my caper spurges and see what I get. Almost.

'Euphorbia Lathyris, Fairy of the Caper Spurge' - close-up 2 of painting 'Euphorbia Lathyris, Fairy of the Caper Spurge' - close-up 3 of painting

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