Prostrate Spurge

Weed, the Prostrate Spurge may be controlled using pre or post emergent

Weed is also referred to as “prostrate spurge” and is found scattered around the front and the back yard. It appears as a clover or a fern. The native of this weed is the United States, particularly the eastern and southeastern parts. A common name is Spotted Spurge and this is technically a bit different from Prostrate. Overall both are considered to be the same.

Prostrate spurge likes hot temperatures and is a summer annual. It is mistaken as Prostrate Knotweed and is poisonous as they appear similar. Like Knotweed, the prostrate spurge grows spreading wide to the ground level. It may be growing erect, but this may not be regular. Visually Spurge is different from Knotweed is because the leaves in the center have a purple spot.  Leaves are hairy, toothed and grow opposite to each other.  Some have a red outline.  From the leaf base, there is a main vein attached to the stalk. Normally, stems are red, but some are green.

This belongs to the Euphoribiaceae family and the Euphorbia genus has more than 1000 species. They appear diverse, while some are similar, causing great confusion. However, all the type of spurges has greenish-white, tiny flowers enveloped by bracts or there is a leaf-like at the flower base. Depending on the location, Weeds flower appears during May-October.

Spurges grow from one taproot and multiply fast. They thrive along roadsides and sidewalk cracks in cultivated soils. Unlike prostrate knotweed, the spurges do not prevent soil erosion. These can be removed manually, but it is mandatory to wear gloves. The broken or pulled spurges give out a bitter milky juice causing skin irritations on coming contact. Though, it is rare for spurges to have a toxic effect, some are reported have toxic effect.

Using Pre-emergent helps in controlling. This may be done before it starts germinating in spring. Seeds that are in the soil are long lasting. However, the spurges may be suppressed easily by mulches or perennials densely planted in the weed growing areas.

Generally, prostrate spurge is controllable by pre- and post-emergent herbicides, but requires repeat applications. Mechanical methods are also useful. Soil also matters to consider post or pre-emergent weed control. Nevertheless using selective herbicides is essential as this post emergent weed control method includes few drawbacks. Thus, rotating different chemicals is recommended so that weeds do not become chemical resistant and the most important face that cannot be ignored is that in this process the soils lose important microbes.

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