Noxious Weeds Profile - Leafy Spurge

Table of Contents


  • English - leafy spurge
  • French - euphorbe ésule, euphorbe feuillue
  • Latin Name - Euphorbia esula L.


Leafy Spurge. A. Plant B. Portion of inflorescence showing cyathia between pairs of bracts.

Leafy Spurge. A. Plant B. Portion of inflorescence showing cyathia between pairs of bracts.

Current Status

  • Ontario Weeds Act - noxious
  • Other provinces - noxious in AB, BC, MN, and SK
  • Canadian Federal Seeds Act - Class 1
  • U.S. Federal Noxious Weed - no
  • U.S. Noxious State Reg - 19 states (including Mich, Minn, NY, Wis)


  • Pub 505 - no
  • NE Weeds - mildly toxic to cattle
  • Canadian Poison Plant - The plant is usually not ingested by livestock, but if large amounts are incorporated in hay, poisoning can occur. Sheep are more resistant to leafy spurge, but collapse and death have occurred (Kingsbury 1964). Some humans can develop dermatitis and irritation from the latex.
  • Cornell Poison Plant - referred to Canadian site
  • Indiana Toxic Plants: TOXICITY RATING: Moderate. Spurges are highly unpalatable, and are rarely consumed in quantities sufficient to cause serious toxicity, but are very irritating upon contact. ANIMALS AFFECTED: Any animal consuming spurge or coming in contact with the sap may be affected. DANGEROUS PARTS OF PLANT: All parts. CLASS OF SIGNS: Gastrointestinal irritation, dermal and ocular irritation, poor doer, weakness.


  • Occurs in several localities in a wide variety of soils and habitiats.

Growth Habit

  • Perennial

Method of Propagation

  • Seeds, Roots/rhizome


  • Difficult to control with 2,4-D and intermediate for dicamba. Not listed on 2,4-D, Banvel or Roundup labels. Apply herbicide at early bud (flowers mid summer) or in early fall. Repeated mowing at 21 day intervals can be an effective control. Mow when first blossoms (May to July) appear to prevent seed production. Mowing may stimulate development of new buds.

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