Spotted Spurge - Euphorbia Maculata

spurge in grass

Genus: Euphorbia

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Flower:  very small, with 4 white petals

Native to: North America

Type of weed: broadleaf, summer annual


GreenGrass treats with:  pre-emergents and post-emergents


Over the counter:  A pre-emergent product containing pendimethalin or dithiopyr or isoxaben in the spring, or a post-emergent (to spot spray after they're up) containing glufosinate (not to be confused with glyphosate!)  Always read the product label to see what it controls, what you can put it on, and how to apply it.

There are 2,008 species of spurge in the family of Euphorbia.  We will discuss spotted spurge, also called prostrate spurge or creeping spurge (Euphorbia maculata) which is a pesky weed here in Oklahoma.  Spurge is best controlled when it's young, as it's difficult to eradicate once it gets established and matures.  Spurge reproduces by seed, so if you have an infested area, you might want to bag your clippings when you mow.


In most well-kept lawns, spurge is not a problem.  However, you will see it in areas of thin turf, bare areas, sidewalk cracks, and of course, your flowerbeds.  If it's in your flowerbeds, it's easiest to just pull it.  If it's in your lawn, you need to do something to correct the thin turf or bare area.  If you see it here or there, spray it or pull it while it's young, so that it won't put out hundreds of seeds for next year!  Spurge is so flat that it has a hard time growing in thick, healthy turf. 

spurge in the garden

When broken, spurge emits a white milky sap called latex which is poisonous and irritating to skin and especially eyes.  When pulling, weeds, wear gloves and eye protection and don't touch your eyes!


SpurgeTrivia:  When eaten in large quantities, spurge can kill animals as large as sheep.  But on the other hand, its milky sap is being studied as a possible cure for cancer.