Noxious Species of the Month

Leafy Spurge

One of most common noxious species throughout the state is Leafy Spurge. A top species of concern in Campbell County, we have been implementing a special control program for the species for over 25 years. This has paid dividends as it has kept most major infestations in the northwest corner of the county. It is a very hardy weed that is nearly impossible to completely remove after an infestation takes place. This is why early detection and control is important with this species. Hopefully this article will be helpful with correct identification and some control mechanisms that can keep this species from becoming a big problem on your property.

Leafy Spurge is a perennial species that reproduces from seeds and creeping roots. Stems grow up to three feet tall and contain milky latex. Leaves are alternate, long, and narrow. Flowering heads are yellowish green surrounded by heart shaped leaves. Roots systems are vast and brown in color with pink new growth buds. The seed pods on the plant will actually pop and shoot the seeds up to 20 feet from the parent plants. The two characteristics that are most easily distinguished are the flowering heads and the milky latex throughout the stem. Knowing these characteristics should make it easier to identify this perennial problem weed.

There has been a variety of techniques that can be implemented to try to keep infestation of this species from occurring. The main technique we implement on Leafy Spurge is chemical control. Selection of a herbicide for the species is difficult, because of the vast root system the chemical has to act slowly enough that it can work throughout the plant and into the root system before it dies. If your herbicide works to quickly you will only kill the above ground portion of the plant and it will return the next year. Biological control has been another mechanism that has seen good results. Primarily, flea beetle species that can be released on infested areas. The flea beetle can lead to adequate control, but it is a slow process and can take longer than five years. Goats have also been used to graze off this species. They will do a great job on annual control, but still leave the root system intact. Thus, repeated grazing is needed to really set back the plants invasion. These techniques are the main types that can be implemented for control of this noxious species.

Leafy Spurge is a species that we need to contain and further control to prevent future spread throughout Campbell County. With the help of the public and continued implementing of the summer spraying crew, hopefully we can keep the majority of the county clear of infestations of this top concern weed species. Remember we are here to help with any concerns or question you may have about this or any other noxious weed species.