Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) is a native of Eurasia and introduced to North America likely as a seed contaminant.
It was first recorded in Massachusetts during 1827 and quickly spread across the U.S. during the early 1900s. Milky latex occurs throughout the plant. Leafy spurge is a highly adaptive, deep-rooted, tenacious plant.
The plant reduces livestock carrying capacity by competing with desirable forage species. Land value can also be reduced due to difficulty associated with management and control expenses. In rangeland settings, infestations of leafy spurge have been linked to diminished plant diversity and can be associated with other non-native grasses such as cheatgrass and smooth brome. Latex in leafy spurge is poisonous to some animals and can cause blistering and irritation on skin. The digestive tract is similarly affected when this plant is eaten by humans and some animals.
Leafy spurge is considered noxious or prohibited in 22 states in the U.S. and in 6 Canadian provinces.