Weed of the Month - Prostrate Spurge (Euphorbia supine)
Posted: October 9, 2012
A member of the Euphorbia family, this low-growing weed is closely related to spotted spurge and nodding spurge. A very hardy plant, prostrate spurge can germinate and grow in pavement cracks, stone walls, dry and compacted soils, and disturbed sites.
Like its name suggests, prostrate spurge forms a ground hugging mat, up to two feet in diameter, from stems originating from a central tap root. Stems and foliage exude a milky sap when injured. Leaves are pale green, small, opposite, and oval, with reddish brown spots along the mid-vein. This coloration acts almost like camouflage, making these weeds easy to miss until they get large. Prostrate spurge flowers are small but numerous. The plant flowers continuously from June through October, producing large numbers of seed to ensure its pesky presence in the future.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be priceless. This short video will clear up any confusion you might have in identifying prostrate spurge:
Control: In general, prostrate spurge can be controlled by the use of pre- and post-emergent herbicides, although repeat applications may be required. Mechanical methods can also be used.
In landscape beds and nursery containers: A number of herbicides are labeled for use in nursery containers, including Barricade, Casaron, Gallery, and Surflan. More detailed information can be found in Controlling Weeds in Nursery and Landscape Plantings: http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/uj236.pdf
In turf: Prostrate spurge can take advantage of thinning turf, newly established turf, or turf that is mowed too short. Effective pre-emergence herbicides include dithiopyr (Dimension), prodiamine (Barricade), pendimethalin (Pre-M), or benefin+trifluralin (Team). Selective post-emergence herbicides include those containing the active ingredients 2,4-D, MCPP, MCPA, dicamba, and sulfentrazone, which are available in many different products and formulations. More detailed information can be found in Weed Management in Turf: http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/uc189.pdf
- Extension Educator, Horticulture