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Leafy spurge

By: Garden Gate staff
Although this perennial weed grows only 3 to 4 ft. high, its roots may spread up to 14 ft. below ground.

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Leafy spurge Euphorbia esula

IDENTIFICATION – Although this perennial weed grows only 3 to 4 ft. high, its roots may spread up to 14 ft. below ground. Leafy spurge grows in dense clumps with shoots coming off of a woody crown. Its stems are thick, branched and filled with a milky sap typical of spurges.

Umbrella-shaped, green-yellow flowers appear at the end of each branch. Leafy spurge spreads easily because it can produce up to 140 seeds per stem. These seeds can be ejected as much as 15 ft. away. And some of those seeds may remain viable in the soil for up to eight years. Leafy spurge prefers lawns, pastures and untilled natural areas.

CONTROL – The sap from this persistent weed may give you a severe rash, so getting rid of it is a top priority. An herbicide, such as dicamba, should be applied in the spring when the plant begins to bloom, with repeat applications about every two weeks until no new growth sprouts. Leafy spurge’s taproot grows several feet down, making it impossible to control by hand pulling or hoeing.

Published: Oct. 2, 2007
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