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Prostrate or Spotted Spurge

Richard L. Duble, Turfgrass Specialist
Texas Cooperative Extension
Text and images copyright © Richard Duble.

Prostrate spurge (Euphorbia supina) and spotted spurge (E. maculata) are warm season annual weeds found throughout the southeastern states. Both species have a rather deep taproot, are freely branching and form a circular mat or clump several inches to several feet in diameter. Both species produce abundant seed that germinate throughout the summer and readily invade turf and ornamental plantings.

Description. Leaves are opposite, ovate to oblong, slightly serrated, sparsely pubescent with a tinge of red or purple in the center. A milky latex drips from cut leaves, stems or roots of both plants. In an unmowed location, spotted spurge develops a more erect plant than prostrate spurge. Also, seedlings of the spotted spurge have a pink or green stem.

Like most broadleaved weeds, spurge is most susceptible to postemerge herbicides when plants are in the seedling or immature stage. Mature plants are quite tolerant to most herbicides.

Spurge begins to germinate in late spring and continues to emerge throughout the summer. Controls are most effective when applied in early summer. A second application may be required 4 to 6 weeks after the initial application to control new seedlings.

Control. Products such as dicamba and Trimec provide good control of immature spurge plants, but only fair control of mature plants. These products can be used on most turfgrasses. In bermudagrass turf, MSMA can be used for postemerge control of spurge.

Dacthal, pendimethalin and Surflan have provided good preemerge control of spurge in warm season turfgrasses. To be effective, they must be applied in early spring prior to germination of weeds at recommended rates of application. A second application may be required 60 days after the initial application to provide season-long control of spurge. Looking for the official turfgrass site? Click here.