Leafy Spurge

Leafy Spurge

Leafy Spurge
(Euphorbia esula L. )

Life Span: Perennial
Origin: Eurasia
Reproduction: Rhizomes (have buds all over them) and Seeds

This is probably one of the more beautiful Noxious weeds, but it is one of the most damaging weeds of them all. This weed has, literally, rendered thousands of acres of rangeland and pastures of North Central U.S. worthless.

It is native to Eurasia and was brought to the U.S. as a seed impurity about 1827. It arrived in Nebraska through hay transportation in the mid 1900’s, but no one knew what a sleeping giant of a weed they had. Costs to control large infestations can be many times over the amount of land is worth and can produce by cattle raising.

The reason this plant is considered noxious is:
1. It is a deep-rooted perennial that spreads by rhizomes and seeds.
2. Is filled with a “latex-type” substance that prevents deep penetration of chemicals and provides nutrients.
3. No natural predators.
4. Livestock will not graze infested areas. Causes lesions and irritates mouth and digestive tracts. One exception: Goats can eat it with no adverse affects, but using them as control varies with situations.
5. Negative impact on Agriculture Economics.

Leafy Spurge is a greenish-yellow plant that grows about 1 to 2 feet tall. Is confused with Mustard that is a brilliant yellow, while Leafy Spurge has a green tint. The leaves are very thin and alternating along the stems. The stems are entirely filled with the “latex-type” substance, and if broken, the substance oozes out. The root system is lined with buds, that, when stimulated by mowing, breaking, or spraying of the exposed plant, form new plants.

For a more detailed description of Leafy Spurge, check out the Nebraska Weed Control Association Website.