Invasive Plant Guide: Leafy Spurge


Euphorbia esula

Leafy Spurge Flower

Identifying characteristics

  • Stems: erect, glabrous or hairy, when broken exude a milky latex
  • Leaves: linear to narrowly oblanceolate, alternate,  3 inches long, 1/4 inch wide, tips acute or rounded, margins smooth
  • Flower color: green to geenish-yellow
  • Bracts: yellow-green
  • Flowers: June to September
  • Plant height: 1-3 feet
  • Growth habit: perennial
Leafy Spurge Plant


All spurges exude a milky white latex.  This latex can cause severe skin reactions.  When handling leafy spurge, it is recommended to wear gloves and long sleeves and to avoid touching eyes after contact.


Leafy spurge can survive under a wide range of unfavorable plant conditions. However it spreads most rapidly in areas where cattle or other grass-preferring animals remove competing plants, permitting leafy spurge to take over by utilizing the advantages of shooting seeds and invading roots.

The leading edge of the Klamath River leafy spurge population is identified just down river of Orleans at the Ullathorne River Access.  There are large infestations present on the Scott River and on the Klamath, upriver of Happy Camp.


Plants can send rhizomes (underground roots) up to 8' underground, making this plant extremely difficult to control if left untreated. Any part of the root that remains in the soil after an attempted digging will sprout a new shoot that same year, or the following year. A very hot plant on the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Noxious Weed List. Siskiyou County Agriculture is currently treating this plant with the herbicide glyphosate on private property on the Klamath and Scott Rivers.

More Info

California Department of Food & Agriculture