Leafy Spurge
Euphorbia Esula


Provincial Noxious. Perennial.
Leafy spurge is a bushy plant topped with clusters of small, yellowish-green flowers supported by distinctive heart-shaped bracts. Leaves are narrow and arranged spirally around the stem. Mature plants are usually under a metre tall and have extensive horizontal roots. The entire plant contains a white, milky latex.

This plant invades rangeland and reduces its productivity for livestock and wildlife. Leafy spurge actually produces a compound that actively inhibits the growth of other plants. The milky latex can cause irritation, blisters, and swelling in humans and is toxic to some livestock.

In British Columbia, leafy spurge grows at low- to mid-elevations on dry roadsides, fields, grasslands, open forests, and disturbed habitats. It has adapted to a wide range of conditions but prefers semi-arid areas. Isolated pockets occur in the Cariboo, Boundary, East Kootenay, Nechako, and North Okanagan areas. It is a major concern in the Kootenay, Okanagan, Thompson, Cariboo, and Omineca regions.

Leafy spurge can be spread by seed but advances most effectively through its extensive root system. Roots can extend nearly 4.5 metres horizontally and 9 metres vertically, with up to 300 buds (new plants) forming on the roots.


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