Invasive Species Council of British Columbia
Invasive Plant

Leafy spurge

Euphorbia esula
Warning icon


Toxic to humans, livestock and wildlife when consumed, or when latex (sap) contacts skin.

About This Species

Leafy spurge (Green spurge) is a perennial that was introduced to BC as a garden plant from Europe and has escaped into natural areas. It can now be found on dry roadsides, fields, grasslands, open forests, and disturbed sites. It spreads rapidly by its huge root system, which can grow to 4.5 m horizontally and 9 m vertically (underground). This plant has a secret weapon that helps it spread – it produces a chemical that stops other plants growing nearby. Leafy spurge is designated as a Provincial Noxious Weed by the BC Weed Control Act, as well as a Regional Containment/Control species by the BC Provincial Priority Invasive Species List. 

How to Identify

Leafy spurge grows up to 1 m tall as a bushy plant. All parts of the plant contain a milky juice (latex) that can irritate skin when the plant is cut or broken when being handled. 

Greenish-yellow flowers grow in a flat-topped umbrella shape, with pairs of heart-shaped floral leaves underneath flower clusters.  

Leaves are narrow and spiral around the stem.  


Take Action

Spurges are very difficult to get rid of. Tillage, mowing and pulling are generally not very effective control measures because of the plant’s extensive root system. Prevention is the best way to manage its spread.

Play Clean Go


Learn about best practices



Learn about best practices

A few non-invasive alternatives to plant instead of Leafy spurge include:


Use the app

Observe and report to protect BC’s biodiversity

Report through this website

Use our form to tell us what you’re seeing and where.



Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 3 files.
Please include photos of the suspected species to help potential identification by experts.
Please be specific and give us an address if possible.