Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula)

Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula)

 

Leafy spurge is a herbaceous perennial plant.  It grows in open disturbed areas such as pastures, abandoned fields, ditches and coastal areas.  It is native to central and southern Europe.  All parts of the plant contain a milky latex (sap) that can irritate livestock and cause rashes and skin irritations in humans.

 

 

IDENTIFICATION

Here are some key features that may help to positively identify Leafy spurge:

  • Can reach 1m in height
  • Stems are smooth, hairless, and grow in clumps
  • Leaves are small with waxy smooth edges, arranged alternately or spirally, and are ~7cm long
  • Leaves are bluish-green in colour, turning to reddish-organge in late summer-early fall
  • Greenish-yellow heart-shaped bracts form under flowers
  • Reproduces through lateral root buds and seeds; mature fruit explodes, spreading seeds up to 5m
  • Has a lookalike, Cypress spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias), which is also considered invasive
  • Leafy spurge is taller and more robust than Cypress Spurge and has fewer and wide leaves (3-8mm)

 

Leafy spurge is considered a priority species for the PEI Invasive Species Spotters Network.  If you see this plant, please report your sighting.