Leafy Spurge
Euphorbia esula L.
Family: Euphorbiaceae, Spurge
Genus: Euphorbia
Other names: wolf's milk
Nomenclature: esula = from the word esu, "sharp, biting" (sap)
Nativity / Invasiveness: noxious weed in Montana
Toxic plant
No medicinal data

General: perennial with milky juice and heavy rootstocks, 20-90 cm tall, hairless and waxy-coated to sparsely short-hairy above. Stems erect, simple below but freely and umbellately branched above.

Leaves: alternate, the lowest ones scalelike, the main stem leaves oblong to linear-oblanceolate, entire, 2-6 cm long, 3-8 mm broad, nearly or quite stalkless.

Flowers: greenish-yellow, naked, lacking petals and sepals, borne in small clusters inside small involucres which are 2-3 mm long, bearing 4 glands alternate with short, spreading horns, these inside a pair of floral leaves that are broadly cordate to ovate, 12-16 mm long. These small clusters on long stalks in large umbel-clusters. The male flowers many, included in the involucre, each represented by a single stamen, female flower single and terminal, often protruding from the involucre, 3-celled. May-June.

Fruits: capsules, inconspicuously warty to nearly smooth, round, about 4 mm wide. Seeds mostly 1.5-2 mm long, brownish, smooth.


Moist, disturbed, cultivated or waste ground, in many parts of MT. from A bad Eurasian weed now well established in many parts of the U.S.
Toxic Properties

In many areas leafy spurge is classified as a noxious weed. The acrid, milky juice (latex) can inflame and blister sensitive skin. If the plants are eaten, they cause vomiting, and in quantity they can prove fatal. Even honey made from the nectar from some spurges is mildly poisonous. Sheep are able to eat leafy spurge, so they are being used in biological control programs.

Sub taxa:

Our specimen belong to var. esula L.

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