leafy spurge

Euphorbiales > Euphorbiaceae > 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

  • Weeds of the Week - USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area, Forest Health Protection

Selected Images from Invasive.org

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Foliage;
Richard Old, XID Services, Inc., Bugwood.org
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Foliage; Foliage of leafy spurge at peak of fall coloring.
William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s); Close up of flower, near Fort Collins.
William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Richard Old, XID Services, Inc., Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); Roots
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); Roots
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s);
Richard Old, XID Services, Inc., Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); In grain
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); in flower
Norman E. Rees, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Utah State University Archive, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Infestation; Meadow in Rist Canyon, west of Fort Collins, invaded by leafy spurge.
William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Research; research site
Norman E. Rees, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Todd Pfeiffer, Klamath County Weed Control, Bugwood.org
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Invasive Reference(s):

Check Invasive.org for most current lists.
  • Alaska - Noxious Weed Law
  • Arizona - Noxious Weed Law
  • California - Noxious Weed Law
  • California - Invasive Plant Inventory
  • Colorado - Noxious Weed Law
  • Connecticut - Noxious Weed Law
  • Iowa - Noxious Weed Law
  • Kansas - Noxious Weed Law
  • Massachusetts - Noxious Weed Law
  • Michigan - Noxious Weed Law
  • Minnesota - Noxious Weed Law
  • Montana - Noxious Weed Law
  • Nebraska - Noxious Weed Law
  • New Mexico - Noxious Weed Law
  • Nevada - Noxious Weed Law
  • North Dakota - Noxious Weed Law
  • Oregon - Noxious Weed Law
  • South Dakota - Noxious Weed Law
  • Texas - Invasive Plant List
  • Utah - Noxious Weed Law
  • Virginia - Invasive Alien Plant Species
  • Washington - Noxious Weed Law
  • Wisconsin - Noxious Weed Law
  • Wyonming - Noxious Weed Law
  • Mid-Atlantic - EPPC List
  • Invasive Plants: Western North America
  • Invasive Plants: Guide to Identification and the Impacts and Control of Common North American Species
  • Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest
  • Invasive Plant Atlas of New England
  • Midwest Invasive Plant Network


External Links


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