Invasive Focus: Leafy Spurge, Euphorbia esula

Invasive Focus: Leafy spurge, Euphorbia esula,*is a perennial weed with roots often exceeding 20 feet in depth. Plants develop from pinkish root buds from any depth. Leaves are narrow and up to 4 inches long. Stems grow up to 3 feet in height, and in midsummer are tipped by several pairs of showy, yellowish-green, heart-shaped bracts (each up to 1/3 inch across), which enclose a small flower. Stems and leaves exude a milky latex when broken. Ripe seed capsules rupture when touched, throwing seeds as far as 15 feet. (*Idaho’s Noxious Weeds)

Leafy Spurge arrived in America more than 100 years ago as an ornamental plant people grew in their yards. This weed readily adapts to most environments and has doubled in acreage every ten years since the early 1900′s. This plant is an economic and environmental catastrophe: it reduces rangeland productivity and plant diversity wherever it gets a foothold.

(Photo source)

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