Leafy spurge is a long living perennial with an incredibly vigorous root system. The extensive roots of the plant can reach depths of 30 feet and contain nutrients that will sustain the plant for long periods of time. The brownish roots have pink buds on them and each develops into new shoots. This plant will reproduce by seeds or the roots. Seedlings resemble Yellow toadflax seedlings. When the plant is broken anywhere the plant will produce a milky sap. The stems of Leafy spurge can grow up to 3 feet in heights and have alternate, narrow, smooth margined leaves. Leaves and stems are a bluish-green in color. The flowers are yellow-green in color and arranged in clusters contains seven to ten flowers. The showy, heart shaped yellow bracts surround the flower. The plant will go to seed and produces three-celled capsules and at maturity; these capsules explode launching the seed up to 15 feet from the parent plant.
KEY FEATURES OF LEAFY SPURGE:
Break any part of this plant and you see milky white latex this is Leafy spurge. When looking at the roots they will be dark and have pink buds on them. Also, once recognized Leafy spurge is easy to identify by its distinctive yellow-green flowers.
Leafy spurge is flexible plant that tolerates extremely dry to extremely wet soil conditions. It can often be found along waterways and irrigation ditches, but also found in draws and sagebrush. This plant will grow in a wide variety of soil types but is mostly found in sandy or gravelly soils and in arid conditions.
There are herbicides and other control methods that commonly control leafy spurge. For more information on these herbicides and other control methods contact the CCWP office.
Leafy spurge is toxic to cattle and horses; but grazing with goats and sheep has proven to be effective with integrated control measure. Leafy spurge first arrived in the U.S.A. around 1820’s and has doubled its coverage every decade for the past 100 years.