Invasive Species Council of Manitoba

Leafy Spurge(Euphorbia esula)

Common Names: Wolf's-milk


Leafy Spurge is native to Europe. It was introduced to North America from ships or as a seed contaminant in the early 1800s.

Physical Description

General: A deeply rooted, erect perennial that grows from 40-90 cm (15-36") tall. Stems are pale green, hairless, tough, and smooth. A milky white sap is secreted from all parts of the plant when damaged. Spreads rapidly by seed production and vegetative reproduction.

Leaves: Numerous smooth narrow green leaves 2-7.5 cm (3/4-3") are found along the stems.

Flowers and Fruit: Flowers are not prominent and found at the tip of the stems. They are arranged in numerous small clusters surrounded by green to yellow heart shaped bracts (modified leaves). Flowers appear from May to July. Fruit is a 3-seeded capsule that explodes upon ripening and hurtles seeds up to 5 m (16') from the plant.

Leafy Spurge

[A] Milky latex sap found in all parts of the plant. [B] Flea beetle feeding on leafy spurge, view of flower. [C] View of whole plant. [D] An area infested with leafy spurge.

Photos: [A] N. E. Rees, USDA agricultural research service [B] USDA APHIS PPQ archive [C] W. M.Ciesla, Forest health management international (; [D] M. Ammeter


Leafy Spurge is capable of dominating habitats. All parts of the plant contain poisonous latex sap capable ofkilling cattle and causing dermatitis in humans and livestock.


Leafy spurge is very problematic in Manitoba, and is especially concentrated in the southwest. Check vehicles, livestock forage and seed stock for Leafy Spurge seeds and plants.


Leafy Spurge ISCM Fact Sheet

2011 Rural Municipality Distribution Map

2010 Rural Municipality Distribution Map

Leafy Spurge MWSA 2009 Survey Map

Leafy Spurge Economic Impact Assessment Report 2010

Best Management Practices 2010

Alberta Invasive Plant Council Fact Sheet


Plesae refer to the Manitoba-based Leafy Spurge Stakeholders Group for additional detail, biocontrol and management recommendations:


Back to Terrestrial Invasive Species List


© Copyright 2004-2018 - CMS Made Simple
This site is powered by CMS Made Simple version 1.4.1