Back to Target Weeds for Control
Why should we care?
How to Identify
- The leafy spurge is a threat primarily to moist and dry prairies and savannas, quickly displacing native plants. This plant rapidly invades primarily non-cropland disturbed environments, such as roadsides. It is tolerant of a wide range of habitats, from dry to moist, and sunny to semi-shade. It’s most aggressive in dry soil conditions where there is less competition from native plants.
About the Plant and Where it came from
- Perennial herbaceous plant, 2–3.5 inches tall, erect branching, smooth stems growing from a deep vertical root. Stems, flowers, and leaves emit a white milky sap when broken. The leaves are alternate, small, oblong to lance-shaped, on the upper part of stem; scale like on the lower part of the stem. The flowers are small, borne by showy yellow-green bracts which open in late May; flowers bloom from June into fall. Umbrella-shaped flower cluster, 7–10 , at the top of each stem, single, stemmed flowers grow from leaf axils below. The roots consist of an extensive deep root system, vegetative reproduction from crown and root buds.
How to Control
- Euphorbia esula
- Native to Europe and Asia that occurs across much of the northern U.S. in the grasslands and savannas of the Great Plains.
- The leafy spurge has an explosive dispersal from a seed capsule up to 15 feet; high germination rate; seeds remain viable in the soil for 7 years.
- Cultural control: Prescribed burning in conjunction with repeated treatment with glyphosate +2,4-D (one pint each per acre).
- Chemical control: Imazapic (Plateau): Apply 1–1.3 oz/gallon water + 1oz/gallon water methylated seed oil (MSO) for spot treatment of 8–12 oz per acre + MSO in late September thru October when native plants have gone dormant and leafy spurge has a second flush of growth (test: milky sap still emits from broken stem).
- Biological control: Root-boring beetle, four root-mining beetles, shoot-tip gall midge; grazing goats.