leafy spurge USDA PLANTS Symbol: EUES
U.S. Nativity: Exotic
Habit: Forbs/Herbs
Euphorbia esula L.

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Taxonomic Rank: Magnoliopsida: Euphorbiales: Euphorbiaceae
Synonym(s): wolf's milk
Native Range: Europe (BAIL);

Leafy spurge is an erect, perennial, herbaceous plant that grows from 2 to 3.5 ft. (0.6-1.1 m) tall. Leaves are oval-shaped, smooth and 1-4 in. (2.5-10.2 cm) long. The plant produces a milky sap if stem is broken or a leaf is removed. The stem is smooth and bluish-green. Flowering occurs in the late spring (and sometimes the late summer), when yellow flowers develop in clusters at the apex of the plant. Fruits are 3 lobed capsules that explode when mature, spreading seeds up to 15 ft. (4.6 m). Large infestations give the landscape a yellowish tinge due to the yellow bracts. Leafy spurge invades prairies, pastures and other open areas. It is a major pest of national parks and nature preserves in the western United States. It can completely overtake large areas of land and displace native vegetation. Leafy spurge is native to Europe and was introduced accidentally into North America in the early 1800s as a seed contaminate.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Selected Images from Invasive.orgView All Images at Invasive.org


Flower(s);
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s);
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org
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Flower(s); Close up of flower, near Fort Collins.
William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org
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Foliage; Foliage of leafy spurge at peak of fall coloring.
William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Bruce Ackley, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org
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Feature(s); Close-up view of the stem of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), showing latex oozing from a wound.
L.L. Berry, , Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); in flower
Norman E. Rees, USDA Agricultural Research Service - Retired, Bugwood.org
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Infestation; Meadow in Rist Canyon, west of Fort Collins, invaded by leafy spurge.
William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Root(s); Roots
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Root(s); Roots
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Seed(s); Seeds, two with most of the caruncle still attached. Raphe exposed. FNW taxon.
Julia Scher, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org
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Research; research site
Norman E. Rees, USDA Agricultural Research Service - Retired, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Utah State University Archive, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); In grain
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
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Infestation;
Todd Pfeiffer, Klamath County Weed Control, Bugwood.org
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EDDMapS Distribution:
This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts and records obtained from USDA Plants Database. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org
 


State(s) Where Reported invasive.
Based on state level agency and organization lists of invasive plants from WeedUS database.

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U.S. National Parks where reported invasive:
Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)
Devils Tower National Monument (Wyoming)
Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado)
Glacier National Park (Montana)
Rocky Mountains National Park (Colorado)
Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)
Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)



Invasive Listing Sources:
California Invasive Plant Council
City of Ann Arbor Michigan Parks and Recreation
Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group
Faith Campbell, 1998
Hoffman, R. & K. Kearns, Eds. 1997. Wisconsin manual of control recommendations for ecologically invasive plants. Wisconsin Dept. Natural Resources, Bureau of Endangered Resources. Madison, Wisconsin. 102pp.
Jil M. Swearingen, Survey of invasive plants occurring on National Park Service lands, 2000-2007
John Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Survey of TNC Preserves, 1995.
Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2005
National  Wildlife Refuge Association, Silent Invasion: A Call to Action from the National Wildlife Refuge Association, 2002. Washington DC. 17 pp.
New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry, 2004
Pacific Northwest Exotic Pest Plant Council, 1998
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2009