• Leafy Spurge Plant 215x150

Category B Weed

Spurge family (Euphorbiaceae)

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Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula)


    • Up to 3 ft. tall; branched; base of plant often woody; entire plant contains milky white sap


      • Mostly alternate, strap-like (linear), 1-2 in. long, 0.2 in. wide and lack hair (glabrous); NO leaf stem (petiole); smooth edges (margins)


        • Small, showy, green to yellow and clustered at tips of stems; bracts below flowers are heart- to kidney-shaped and have the appearance of flower petals

        • Produces a spherical capsule with 3 chambers, each containing one seed


          • Creeping, deep root system; new shoots arise from pinkish buds


            • Grows well across a wide range of sites; often found in pastures, waste areas, rangelands, field borders and along waterways; known to occur in Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander and White Pine counties

            • Perennial; reproduces by seed and roots; sap can irritate skin, eyes and the digestive tracts of humans and animals; sheep and goats are immune


              • Several biological control agents are available

              • Mechanical control (mowing, burning, tillage and grazing) can reduce seed production but are often NOT effective due to new shoot growth from root buds

              • Apply dicamba, 2,4-D or glyphosate to actively growing plants through early bloom; picloram throughout the growing season; imazapic in fall after a killing frost but before loss of milky sap