U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Document Type


Date of this Version



Proceedings Of The Twelfth North American Prairie Conference, 1990, pp. 101-106.


Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) is a noxious weed that threatens grasslands in the central and northern Great Plains and the prairie provinces of Canada. Leafy spurge threatens prairie communities by displacing native species and reducing species diversity. Effective management of this undesirable plant requires that one be able to identify leafy spurge, understand the characteristics that contribute to its aggressive habit, and be aware of practices that are available to control this noxious weed. The aggressive habit of leafy spurge is related to its ability to reproduce both by seed and by numerous adventitious shoot buds located along an extensive root system. Effective seed dispersal mechanisms, high seed viability, and rapid seedling development enable new infestations to become established easily. Prolific vegetative reproduction maintains dense, long-lived infestations. Preventing the movement of leafy spurge propagules onto non-infested sites is the most effective method of reducing the spread of this non-endemic plant. Herbicides currently provide the most effective means to manage existing leafy spurge infestations.