leafy spurge
Euphorbia esula L.


Euphorbia esula is an erect, perennial, herbaceous plant that grows from 2-3.5 ft. (0.6-1.1 m) tall. The stem is smooth and bluish-green. The plant produces a milky sap if stem is broken or a leaf is removed.
Leaves are lance shaped, smooth and 1-4 in. (2.5-10.2 cm) long. They are arranged alternately along the stem, becoming shorter and more ovate towards the top of the stem.
Flowering occurs in June, when yellow flowers develop in clusters at the apex of the plant.
Fruits are 3 lobed capsules that explode when mature, propelling brown mottled ovoid seeds up to 15 ft. (4.6 m) away.
Ecological Threat
Large infestations of Euphorbia esula give the landscape a yellowish tinge due to the yellow bracts. Leafy spurge invades prairies, pastures, and other open areas. It is a major pest of national parks and nature preserves in the western United States. It can completely overtake large areas of land and displace native vegetation. This plant is native to Europe and was introduced accidentally into North America in the early 1800s as a seed contaminate.


Selected Images


EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org

State Regulated List

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit Invasive.org

Invasive Listing Sources

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Euphorbiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Euphorbia
Subject: Euphorbia esula L.

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:
wolf's milk


Plants - Forbs/Herbs