Leafy Spurge

Leafy Spurge is also known as:
  • Euphorbia esula
  • Green spurge
  • Fields
  • Pastures
  • Roadsides
Leafy spurge is a deep-rooted perennial. It has a very extensive root system.

The roots are woody with numerous buds capable of producing new shoots. These buds can initiate growth when broken into small segments by tillage. These broken pieces can be transported by birds, grazing animals and in soil. The stems are erect and can grow up to 75 cm in height. A milky white sap is present in all parts of the plant. The sap can cause severe skin rashes in humans and are poisonous to most livestock. The leaves are 4 - 10 cm long and 0.6 - 1.3 cm wide. They narrow leaves alternate and are of a bluish-green hue. The flowers are very small and have a greenish-yellow colour and are shaped in umbrella-like clusters. The seeds are contained in pods that once they dry out they explode spreading seeds up to 5 m. Seeds can survive in the soil for at least 8 years.

Control Practices
On non-arable land sheep provide great control. Sheep will actually eat leafy spurge before other types of grass. Tillage immediately after harvest and until freeze-up works well too. Regrowth should not remain above the ground for more than 5 days between tillage operations. Wheat or barley should be planted the next spring and treated with chemical. Fall rye can also be seeded after a summer of intense tillage. Crested wheat grass is a great competitor if it is sprayed yearly with chemical. Spurge beetles are also being used for control in some areas. The beetles feed on the leaves and flowers causing considerable damage to the weed along with damage to the roots.

Releasing of Spurge Beetles in 2005.