Invasive Plant

Leafy spurge

Euphorbia esula
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Warning

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

About This Species

Introduced to BC as a garden plant, Leafy spurge is a perennial that 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.

How to Identify

Leafy spurge grows up to 1 m tall. It is a bushy plant with narrow leaves that spiral around the stem. Greenish-yellow flowers grow in a flat-topped umbrella shape, with pairs of heart-shaped floral leaves underneath flower clusters. All parts of the plant contain a milky juice (latex) that can irritate skin when the plant is cut or broken when being handled.

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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.

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Plantwise

Plantwise

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

  • Broad-leaf stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium)
  • Yellow ice plant (Delosperma nubigenum)
  • Red hot poker (Kniphofia spp. and hybrids)
  • Common rockrose (Helianthemum nummularium)
  • Yellow gem shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa ‘Yellow Gem’)

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