leafy spurge

Leafy Spurge

 (Euphorbia esula)


Family: Euphorbiaceae

Life cycle: Perennial

Life Cycle: Long lived perennial

Roots:  Deep rooted, spreads by roots and rhizomes.  Deep roots (10 feet deep) allow this weed to regenerate after all applications.  Roots have allelochemicals, which inhibit other plants from growing within the area of infestation.

Leaves: Alternate, linear leaves.

Stem:  Upright, umbellate toward the top – 1 – 3 feet tall and exude a white, milky latex when broken or damaged.  Substance is toxic to people and animals.  Cause skin irritation and blindness upon eye contact.

Flowers/seeds:  Flowers have no sepals or petals but have clustered yellow green bracts below the flowers.  True flower is around mid June

Seeds: Flowering is complete approximately around the middle of July.  The seed is capsulated and once dried by summer conditions will explode sending them up to 15-20 feet from the parenting plant.  Each plant can produce 30 to 130 seeds.  Seeds are viable for up to 8 years but most of them will germinate within 2 years.


Effective control methods:

Because of the deep root structure leafy spurge is incredibly hard to control, therefore, prevention of new infestations is key.

Herbicide works well on smaller infestations but persistence is critical.   Many Leafy spurge control efforts have failed because treatments were not applied in a timely manner or skipped for one or more years.

Bio-controls, once established, work very well to control leafy spurge.  This is recommended on large infestations in conjunction with other control methods.  There are 12 listed and approved insects that attack different parts of the plant. (Contact Weedbusters at www.weedbustersbiocontrol.com)

Do not hand-pull leafy spurge.  Mowing, though it will reduce the seed bank, will not control this weed.  Leafy spurge reproduces primarily by root and if roots are disturbed can regenerate shoots rapidly.

Images from invasive.org

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