Spurges (Leafy, Myrtle, Cypress)
- Euphorbia esula, E. myrsinities, E. cyparissias
Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) is a perennial, considered noxious under the BC Weed Control Act, and commonly found at low- to mid-elevations on dry roadsides, fields, grasslands, open forests, and disturbed habitats. 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 has clusters of petite, yellowish-green flowers supported by distinctive heart-shaped leaves just below flowers. It is a bushy plant with narrow leaves that spiral around the stem, and grows up to a metre tall with extensive horizontal and vertical roots.
Leafy spurge spreads with its extensive root system, which can exceed 4.5 metres horizontally and 9 metres vertically. Up to 300 new buds can form on the roots of a single plant. Seed reproduction also contributes to new growth. Leafy spurge is a uniquely competitive invasive plant as it produces a compound that actively inhibits the growth of other plants nearby. The entire plant contains white, milky latex that can irritate skin of livestock and humans, resulting in blisters and swelling. Leafy spurge invades rangeland, reducing its productivity for livestock and wildlife.
A few native and ornamental alternatives to plant instead of leafy spurge include: Broad-leaf Stonecrop; Yellow Ice Plant; Red Hot Poker; Common Rockrose; and Yellow Gem Shrubby Cinquefoil. Read more about these alternatives in the Grow Me Instead booklet for BC.
Refer to Weeds BC for information on prevention and control methods.