Leafy spurge is of European origin. It is considered a noxious
weed and is included on the Colorado and Adams County Noxious
Weed Lists. It is probably the most serious noxious weed threat
in Colorado. This deep-rooted perennial forb spreads by seed and
by aggressive, creeping horizontal roots (rhizomes). Vertical
roots can extend as deep as 30 feet, are brown in color, and contain
numerous pink buds that generally produce new shoots or roots.
It is because of this root system that leafy spurge is extremely
difficult to control. The shoots grow from 1 to 3 feet tall, are
pale green and unbranched except for flower clusters.
are alternate, narrow, linear, ¼ inch wide, and 1 to 4 inches long.
Stems are thickly clustered. Flowers are very small and yellowish-green.
They are enclosed by very visible yellowish-green, heart-shaped
bracts. The stems contain a milky sap that is damaging to eyes and
sensitive skin, and causes severe irritation of the mouth and digestive
tract in cattle.
spurge will grow on good cultivated lands, shallow rocky soils,
rangelands, and along waterways. Where it becomes established, it
crowds out practically all other vegetation. Although it is unpalatable
to cattle, sheep and goats eat spurge, and are useful biocontrol
tools in an integrated weed management program.
Adams County, leafy spurge can mainly be found along the South Platte
River and along Kiowa Creek. If you think you might have this weed
on your property, or would like more information, please contact
the Adams County Weed Department at 303-637-8115