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Spotted Spurge Euphorbia maculata

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Chamaesyce maculata
  • Chamaesyce matthewsii
  • Chamaesyce supina
  • Chamaesyce tracyi
  • Euphorbia rayturneri
  • Euphorbia supina
Phonetic Spelling
kam-ay-SY-kee mak-yuh-LAH-tuh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Spotted spurge is a summer annual weed with a prostrate growth habit that flourishes in warm climates and dies back after frost.  It is typically found in sidewalk cracks, gravel, roadsides, gardens, and sometimes woodlands. The small, oblong leaves grow opposite on the stem and have an irregular maroon to purple spot in the center. When stems are broken or injured they emit a milky white sap similar to dandelion. The plant forms a thick taproot, which can extend two feet into the soil, and it rarely or never roots at the leaf nodes. The small greenish-white flowers appear in summer and early fall.  Even tiny seedlings can flower and set prolific amounts of seed which has limited or no dormancy. 

Because spurges flower when young and have little or no seed dormancy, weed populations can increase rapidly. Remove plants as quickly as possible to reduce seed production; though they can be time-consuming to hand weed due to the number of seedlings that form.  Mowing is ineffective because plants grow so close to the ground. Spurges are well-managed by most preemergence herbicides labeled for use.

Spotted spurge is similar to Euphorbia prostrata and is also known by the common name, Prostrate Spurge. They can be easily distinguished from each other because Euphorbia prostrata has shorter leaves that are more rounded at the tips and there is no spot in the center.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:  There are no known diseases or insect problems.  This plant spreads aggressively.  Spurges are some of the most common warm-season weeds in container nurseries, agriculture, and landscape ornamental beds.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#sun#poisonous#full sun#annual#white flowers#weed#summer annual weed#mat#summer flowers#sap#late fall#weed control#milky sap#warm#warm climates#groundcover#poor soils tolerant#warm season weed#native weed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#sun#poisonous#full sun#annual#white flowers#weed#summer annual weed#mat#summer flowers#sap#late fall#weed control#milky sap#warm#warm climates#groundcover#poor soils tolerant#warm season weed#native weed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Euphorbia
    Species:
    maculata
    Family:
    Euphorbiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The sap of spotted spurge is being studied for its treatment of skin cancer.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeast Canada to Belize, Cuba, and Bahamas
    Distribution:
    Canada, United States and part of Mexico.
    Edibility:
    toxic if eaten
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 1 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Weed
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Prostrate
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fast growing, tiny 3-lobed, hairy egg-shaped pale brown capsule. Seeds grow fast, have little to no dormancy period, are hydrophilic, and can adhere to surfaces when they are wet.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The cup-shaped "flowers" are axillary, the petal-like appendages are greenish-white with pink to white on the rim.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Small, dark green 1 1/2 inch, leaves with reddish green tint that are round or oblong. Some have a large dark spot on the leaf blade as well as small teeth on the margins.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Hairy
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Slender hairy stems spread out in a mat along the ground with each stem rarely greater than 18 inches long. Stems often turning a pale red in bright sunlight.
  • Landscape:
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Poisonous to Humans
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Causes low toxicity if eaten and minor skin irritation that typically lasts only a few minutes. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested; redness, swelling, blisters after some delay following contact with skin and exposure to sunlight.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Diterpene esters in milky latex
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Sap/Juice
    Seeds
    Stems