Leafy Spurge - Euphorbia esula

Description: Leafy spurge is a long-lived perennial that was introduced into north-eastern North America from Eurasia as an ornamental in 1829 and quickly spread across the continent (Lajeunesse et al. 1999). By the start of the 20th century, this invasive plant had reached the west coast of North America and its distribution continues to spread.

Leafy spurge has an extensive lateral root system and clusters of small yellowish green flowers growing to 80 cm tall. Leafy spurge has shown to be extremely invasive in many habitats with infestations becoming very dense. The milky latex is toxic to some livestock and this species generally increases on heavily grazed lands.

Type: perennial

Habitat and Impacts: Leafy spurge has shown to be extremely invasive in many habitats with infestations becoming very dense. The milky latex is toxic to some livestock and a skin irritant to humans. The plant is also an airborne allergen for humans. This species generally increases on heavily grazed lands.
Method of Spread: Leafy spurge reproduces by seed or by lateral roots. Plants are productive, producing up to 130,000 seeds. Seeds remain viable for up to 8 years in soil but most will germinate within 2 years. Most seeds land within 4.5 m of the parent plant, but animals or water can transport seeds further.

Location: Significant infestations exist along Dog Creek, Gaspard Creek, Empire Valley Road, Narcosli Creek and the West Fraser Road. Scattered leafy spurge sites occur throughout the region, primarily along transportation corridors. The inventory of this species is well developed at this time.

Management Options:

Mechanical: The extensive lateral root system makes most mechanical control methods ineffective. Sheep grazing can reduce the abundance of leafy spurge, but must be maintained for the long term, otherwise the abundance quickly returns to pre-grazing levels.

Chemical: Spring applications of picloram, picloram with 2,4-D or dicamba with 2,4-D are effective when High rates of application are used.

Biological: Biocontrol agents exist for Leafy spurge and have been effective in controlling the plant on many sites; agents have not been proven effective under forest canopies and in areas with fluctuating water tables. Releases in 2008 for Apthona nigriscutis (root feeding flea beetle) were completed in the region.

CCCIPC Priority and Treatment Strategy: Priority 1 (new invader) Central, South Cariboo & Central Coast, Priority 2 (containment) all other regions. All new leafy spurge sites will be addressed. The serious impacts to range quality and displacement of native vegetation make it a priority for the region. Management may consist of chemical treatments if the sites are small or additional biocontrol releases if sites are too large to manage chemically. Biocontrol is currently effectively controlling most sites within the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. The Cariboo Regional District and MoFR address all sites on their jurisdictions.

Treatment Options:

Local Level - herbicide.
Landscape Level - biocontrol effectiveness monitoring, chemical control where applicable.

Leafy Spurge infestation.

Leafy Spurge plant.

British Columbia Ministry of Forest and Range

Apthona nigriscutis, root feeding flea weevil.

Norman E. Rees, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Leafy Spurge plant exuding milky, white latex.


Invasive species profile taken from the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Invasive Plant Committee Invasive Plant Regional Strategic Plan

Page last modified: October 30, 2018 09:44:02 PDT