Spurge (Euphorbia)

300x225Cypress spurge (also referred to as leafy spurge) is native to Europe, and was introduced to the US in the 1860s as an ornamental plant common in gardens and cemeteries. It has dense bunches of yellow-greenish flowers on multi-branch umbels. These begin to appear in early spring and last into the fall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis species can be found in many abandoned pastures, farmlands, woodlands, and along roadsides. It has been discovered to be toxic to livestock, and is especially concerning when located near grazing areas. In addition, the milky substance inside can give humans a rash if it comes in contact with their skin. If ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Spraying is not usually an effective method of removal because of the plant’s extensive root systems. These root systems are responsible for dense stands of spurge that drown out native grasses and other plants in the open areas where it grows (the seeds are rarely viable). However, if an infestation is detected early enough, the species can likely be pulled by hand and eradicated with a persistent effort, but beyond that, the most effective control method seems to be introduction of insects that eat the spurge.