The Toothed Spurge is an annual weed that reproduces by the release of their seeds. These plants are native to United States and Mexico and can be found in areas where they receive direct sunlight for 8 or more hours a day. This plant produces milky latex that, if eaten by herbivores, starts to irritate their mouths and gastrointestinal tract. You should always wear gloves when handling Toothed Spurge since it can cause permanent blindness if the milky sap is rubbed in your eyes.
Family: Spurge family (Euphorbiacea)
Toothed Spurge Scouting and Prevention:
The stem of the Toothed Spurge is straight with fine hairs and has green spreading branches. It can grow to be about 9 to 24 inches tall. The leaves of a Toothed Spurge are narrowly egg-shaped that are tapered to a thick stalk. The lowest leaves of the plant alternate one another and/or sit opposite of each other on the upper parts of the weed. The leaves are about ½ to 3 ½ inches long with coarsely toothed edges. The leaves are green and more times than not, have red spots on them with soft hairs on top and denser hair underneath. Both the leaves and the stem produce a milky sap when broken open. Toothed Spurge has 3 lobed fruits that are about 2 to 2.5 mm wide and hang down and become erect when fully mature. The seeds of this weed are light brown-gray and egg-shaped with 4 angles and tubercule-like projections. Toothed Spurge weed produces tiny, dense clusters of flowers at the end of its branches and stems that bloom from July to August. These flowers have male and female flowers in the center of their clusters. The male flowers have creamy white to yellow antlers and the single female flower has a green center. They also have a 3-part ovary that sits on a short stalk that comes out of the flower center.
- - Dry soil
- - Full sun
- - Open disturbed areas
- - Gardens
- - Soybean fields
Prevention of Toothed Spurge is less expensive and less time-consuming than trying to control it. Make sure when you seed a new area you do so with certified weed-free seeds. If there is an infested area on your property, be sure to drive around instead of through it. Make sure to give all equipment that has been in infested fields a good clean to make sure no seeds are transferred.
Toothed Spurge Control:
There are several ways to culturally control toothed spurge on your property. You can hand pick the weeds and/or cultivative before the plants have time to produce seeds, which occurs in the warm months of summer, or when the temperature is from 23 to 30°C. Be aware that when pulling toothed spurge by hand, you should wear gloves to avoid the sap irritating your skin and do your best to not break stems or leave roots and buds behind from which regrowth is possible. Soil solarization can be an effective way to eradicate toothed spurge if it is still small and you live in an area with high daytime temperatures. Soil solarization can be done by covering the infested ground with a clear plastic sheet for 4 to 6 weeks during the summer to significantly reduce the number of seeds in an area. One of the most common ways to deal with this weed in your gardens is to mulch the infested area, which prevents light from reaching their seedlings and seeds, depriving them of food before they can make it for themselves. Applying mulch that is 3 to 4 inches deep is typically affective.
Latin / Alternative Toothed Spurge names:
- - Euphorbia dentate
- - Toothedleaf poinsettia
- - Wild poinsettia
Additional Toothed Spurge Resources