Leafy Spurge

(Euphorbia esula)


Mature plants

leafy spurge comp

Large Infestation


Milky sap


Seed Pods


Mature plant


Seed Pods



A native plant of Eurasia, leafy spurge is an aggressive invader of pastures, rangeland, stream banks, and waste areas. It reproduces by seed and rootstock. It is toxic to cattle and may result in their death. 


This creeping herbaceous perennial plant grows up to 3 feet tall. The leaves are narrow, and 1 to 4 inches long. In late spring, yellow-green flower bracts appear, which cup tiny, inconspicuous flowers that develop in early summer. Seeds are contained in a three-celled capsule, with one seed per cell. When dry, capsules can shoot seeds up to 15 feet from parent plant. Stems exude a milky fluid when damaged. An extensive root system, up to 20 feet long and more than 14 feet deep, with multiple shoot-producing buds, makes this plant very difficult to control.


Biocontrol is extensive and control is fair to excellent. Herbicides can offer fair to good control, especially when combined with biocontrol. Apply herbicides from spring to the killing frost.