Noxious Weeds
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Leafy Spurge

Euphorbia esula L.

Leafy spurge is a perennial plant, growing up to 3 feet tall. The root system is very deep, up to 30 feet, making it very difficult to control once established. It may form dense colonies. The flowers are yellow-green and in clusters found at the end of branches. Beneath the flower is a pair of heart shaped yellow-green bracts. Flowering occurs in late spring to fall. The entire plant contains a milky sap called latex. Reproduction occurs by rootstock and by exploding seed capsules, capable of throwing seed 15 feet from the plant. This plant is a native of Eurasia and was introduced into the Unites States in 1827. It is found in the north, central and western United States.



  A leafy spurge infestation spreading across a hillside. This plant may look like a pretty wildflower when viewed at a distance, but it is very damaging to the landscape because it displaces the native vegetation used as forage for wildlife and livestock. 





In May 1999, a parcel of public land managed by the BLM Elko Field Office that was infested with leafy spurge was chosen for biological treatment with domestic goats. Katie Johnson, a Spring Creek High School student administered the FFA project using her goats. This photograph shows one of Katie's goat, Percy, munching happily on a leafy spurge plant.

Leafy Spurge - Euphorbia esula L.

Leafy Spurge infestation dominating a hillside

Percy the Goat, munching happily on a leafy spurge plant

(photo courtesy of Katie Johnson)

Last updated: 03-12-2008