Weeds: Spurges (Prostrate spurges) – Chamaesyce spp. (Euphorbia spp.)

categories: Sh-Z Weeds

revision date: 2024-06-22 11:03

  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • Cycle: Annual
  • Plant type: Broadleaf
Prostrate spurge with flowers.
Prostrate spurge with flowers
Photo by: D.G. Swan


There are four prostrate weedy spurges that are common in the western United States. All four species are annual plants with opposite leaves and milky juice. Spotted spurge (Chamaesyce maculata) has hairy stems and hairy, dark green leaves with a distinct purple spot on each leaf. Small, pinkish flowers are produced in the leaf axils. The branches of spotted spurge may be upright, with some branching, but many other species are prostrate. Ground spurge (C. prostrata) is similar to spotted spurge, but lacks the purple spots. Both thyme-leaved spurge (C. serpyllifolia) and ridge-seeded spurge (C. glyptosperma) have smooth stems and leaves. Thyme-leaved spurge has slightly toothed leaf margins, especially at the tips. Ridge-seeded spurge has smooth-margined leaves and seeds that appear corrugated. SPECIAL INFORMANTION: The milky sap of spurges can irritate or blister the skin and can also irritate the eyes. Avoid eye or skin contact with sap. Most Chamaesyce and Euphorbia species are considered toxic.


Spurges are commonly found on dry, bare sites. They prefer sandy or gravelly soils.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Reduce weed establishment by maintaining a healthy planting or turf area to provide competition.
  • Cultivation (rototilling or hoeing) will effectively eliminate plants.
  • Reduce weed infestation by handpulling weeds.
  • Careful digging is useful to manage weed populations. However, digging can carry undesirable weed seed to the surface and foster further germination.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only!
  • NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination.
  • Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas

  • benefin, trifluralin
  • dichlobenil
  • glyphosate
  • oryzalin
  • products containing triclopyr

Turf areas

  • triclopyr

Bare ground areas

  • glyphosate
  • triclopyr

Additional Images