Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula)

Leafy spurge

(Euphorbia esula)


  • Native to Europe and Asia.
  • Introduced as an ornamental plant in the early 1800’s.
  • Stems are clumped, can reach 1m tall.
  • Roots can extend 4.5m laterally and 9m deep.
  • Each plant can produce over 130,000 seeds!
  • Flowers are tiny and yellow. Uniquely, they lack sepals and petals.
  • Flowers are surrounded by two green, heart-shaped bracts which may appear to be part of the flower.

Consequences of invasion

  • Stems contain a milky sap containing latex that is toxic to livestock and can cause some irritation of the skin on humans.

Integrated Pest Management Options


  • Use weed- free hay.
  • If animals were in an area infested with leafy spurge, they should be isolated for a week so that the seeds may travel through their body.
  • If a vehicle has travelled through an infested area, wash the underside and tires thoroughly.
  • Become Plantwise and learn about Grow Me Instead


  • Hand pulling is effective with small infestations that are young. Be careful to avoid skin irritation by wearing gloves and washing hands. Dispose of your invasive plant material correctly. Click here for more info on disposal.
  • Mowing can be effective in preventing seed production, if done repeatedly and at the right times.

Chemical and biocontrol

  • There are chemical and biocontrol agents available to control this plant. Consult a professional to see if these options may be suitable for your situation.

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