Leafy Spurge

Leafy Spurge (esula spurge) Euphorbiaceae, the spurge family

Leafy SpurgeBACKGROUND: Leafy spurge was brought to the U.S. from Eurasia about 1897. A milky latex exists in all parts of the plant that can produce blisters and dermatitis in humans, cattle, and horses and may cause permanent blindness if rubbed into the eye. Protection is needed when handling leafy spurge. It spreads both by seed and creeping roots and grows in may environmental conditions.

DESCRIPTION: Leafy spurge is a perennial weed with roots often exceeding 20 feet in depth. Plants develop from pinkish root buds from any depth. Leaves are narrow and up to 4 inches long. Stems grow up to 3 feet in height, and in midsummer are tipped by several pairs of show, yellowish green heart-shaped bracts (each up t0 1/3-inch across), which enclose a small flower. Stems and leaves exude a milky latex when touched, throwing seeds as far as 15 feet.

DISTRIBUTION: Found throughout the West.

CONTROL: Biological control agents (several stem/root boring beetles, a short tip gall midge, and a stem boring moth, 3 root/defoliating flea beetles) have been inconsistent in Idaho. Sheep and goats have been used to check the rate of spread of leafy spurge. Herbicides are available for control.

Leafy Spurge Distribution Map - Grey Area


© 1999 University of Idaho: Text and photographs for these pages from Idaho’s Noxious Weeds, by Robert H. Callihan and Timothy W. Miller (revised by Don W. Morishita and Larry W. Lass).

Please contact: Ag Publishing, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844-2240; (208) 882-7982; cking@uidaho.edu; or visit the UI Extension/CALS Publications and Multimedia Catalog website at www.cals.uidaho.edu/edComm/catalog.asp, for more information about this or other publications.