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.
  • Can produce over 130,000 seeds!
  • Flowers are small and yellow. Uniquely, they lack sepals and petals. Supported by two, green, heart-shaped bracts.

Consequences of invasion

  • Stems contain a milky latex that is toxic to livestock and can cause some irritation of the skin on humans.
  • Goats and sheep are not affected by the toxins in this plant.

Integrated Pest Management Options

  • Prevention
    • Use weed seed 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 been through an infested area, wash the underside and tires thoroughly.
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  • Cultural
    • Goats and sheep will graze on leafy spurge, causing re-sprouting that helps weaken root energy reserves. Be sure to isolate the livestock if they have been grazing on leafy spurge.
  • Mechanical
    • 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

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