Euphorbia esula L.
Synonym(s): wolf's milk

Leafy spurge is an erect, perennial, herbaceous plant that grows from 2 to 3.5 ft. (0.6-1.1 m) tall. Leaves are oval-shaped, smooth and 1-4 in. (2.5-10.2 cm) long. The plant produces a milky sap if stem is broken or a leaf is removed. The stem is smooth and bluish-green. Flowering occurs in the late spring (and sometimes the late summer), when yellow flowers develop in clusters at the apex of the plant. Fruits are 3 lobed capsules that explode when mature, spreading seeds up to 15 ft. (4.6 m). Large infestations 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. Leafy spurge is native to Europe and was introduced accidentally into North America in the early 1800s as a seed contaminate.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources