Ontario Weeds: Thyme-leaved spurge

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Photos and Pictures
  6. Stems and Roots
  7. Flowers and Fruit
  8. Habitat
  9. Similar Species
  10. For more information...

Name: Thyme-leaved spurge, Euphorbia serpyllifolia Pers. (may include E. glyptosperma Engelm., Ridge-seeded spurge)

Other Names: euphorbe à feuilles de serpolet, euphorbe à feuilles de thym

Family: Spurge Family (Euphorbiaceae)

General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Thyme-leaved spurge. A. Plant lying prostrate on the ground. B. End portion of flowering and fruiting stem.

Thyme-leaved spurge.
A. Plant lying prostrate on the ground.
B. End portion of flowering and fruiting stem.

Stems & Roots: Stems smooth, prostrate to somewhat erect, 10-30cm (4-12in.) long, reddish to green; leaves 3-14mm (1/8-3/5in.) long and basically oblong, with almost entire margins and asymmetrical bases.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers in complex inflorescences called cyathia, as described for Spotted spurge, each cyathium very small (0.8-1.2mm, 1/30-1/20in. in diameter) and producing a single fruit or seedpod that is smooth, sharply 3-angled, about 1.5-2.0mm (1/16-1/12in.) long and wide, and containing 3 gray seeds. The entire plant, except its seeds, contains a white, milky juice. Flowers from July to September.

Habitat: Thyme-leaved spurge occurs in gardens, lawns, fields, waste places, and along railway lines in sandy or alluvial soil throughout southern Ontario.

Similar Species: It is distinguished from other prostrate weeds by the following: from Purslane by its milky juice, less succulent stems and leaves, and its opposite leaves; from the prostrate knotweeds which often have reddish stems by having milky juice, opposite leaves and no ocrea; from Carpetweed by having opposite leaves rather than whorls of 3 to 8 leaves at each node; and from other prostrate spurges by its hairless stems and its leaves being almost entire (with rarely smooth margins).

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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