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Pacific Northwest Research Station
Blue Mountains National Resources Institute

Forestry and Range Sciences Laboratory
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BMNRI Home > Publications > Weeds > Leafy Spurge

Publications: Noxious Weeds

Explosion in Slow Motion: A talk by Jerry Asher about noxious weeds in the Blue Mountains

Click on a weed to learn about how to find it and kill it!

Common Crupina
Diffuse Knapweed
Russian Knapweed
Spotted Knapweed
Purple Loosestrife
Perennial Pepperweed
Tansy Ragwort
Medusahead Rye
Rush Skeletonweed
Yellow Starthistle
Canada Thistle
Musk Thistle
Scotch Thistle
Dalmatian Toadflax
Mediterranean Sage
St. Johnswort
Leafy Spurge
Dyers Woad

Wanted: DEAD!

Leafy Spurge

Alias: Esula spurge

  • Stems: Erect, with numerous weak sterile branches. Main stem up to 3 feet tall and smooth. Exudes a milky juice when bruised.
  • Leaves: Alternate, sessile, 1 to 4 inches long, narrow strap-shaped, bluish-green. Leaves of the flowering branches paired, broads, closely clasping the stems.
  • Flowers: Yellowish, minute, borne on forking leafy branches. Flowering period is from May to July.
  • Fruits: Three-lobed and three-celled, each cell bearing a single seed.
  • Seeds: Oblong, grayish to brown or purple.

Leafy spurge is a perennial that forms large colonies. Branches and paired leaves that become yellow at maturity; entire plant turns orange or red in the fall. It is usually found along streambanks, on unplanted sites, or in pasture and rangeland. It propagates both by rootstock and by seed. The plant contains a latex that causes severe irritation of the mouth and digestive system of cattle and horses.

Control is very important owing to the toxicity of the plant. Integrated management is most effective. Once established, it is very difficult to control.

  • Biological: Goats and sheep are not damaged by grazing the plant, and can perform limited biocontrol. Some flea-beetles are also capable of controlling infestations.
  • Chemical: Fall or early spring herbicide application is recommended. Older plants translocate herbicide poorly, so control by herbicide can be difficult. Most effective control occurs during the first 3 to 5 years of infestation.

Report all sightings to your local Weed Board

US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station, Blue Mountains National Resources Institute
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:43 CST

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