What Does Spotted Spurge Look Like?

If you’re like most homeowners, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to keep your lawn and garden looking its best.

And if you’ve ever seen a weed that you couldn’t identify, you may have wondered exactly what it is and how it got there. It’s important to be able to know how to spot any weeds that may start to grow so you can therefore get rid of them before they become a problem.

Well, wonder no more! In this blog post, we’ll take a close look at spotted spurge – what it looks like, where it grows, how to get rid of Spotted Spurge, and more. We’ll help you to learn everything you need to know about this pesky weed!

So, what does spotted spurge look like? Keep reading for more information!

What is Spotted Spurge?

Spotted spurge, also called Euphorbia maculata, is a weed that is native to North America, specifically the eastern part of the United States. It’s the most common member of the spurge family, which includes less well-known relatives like Matted Sandmat (Euphorbia serpens) and Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus).

Spotted Spurge is an invasive weed that has been known to infect a variety of agricultural products, including trees, vegetable crops, lawn turf, and container plants.

The milky sap in Spotted Spurge is poisonous to both animals and humans and can cause an itchy rash if it comes into contact with your skin. It’s best not to touch it, even when working to remove it from your lawn and garden.

Where Does Spotted Spurge Grow?

Spotted Spurge is a prostrate, creeping plant that spreads quickly and covers great distances with its plants in relatively little time. This weed may be found in lawns, pastures, and other open areas where grass is sparse; it can even thrive in sidewalk cracks and on road sides.

Spotted spurge is a summer-blooming, annual plant that flourishes on the basis of its high seed production and cannot tolerate grass or weed competition. A single spurge weed may produce hundreds of thousands of seeds, which are tiny and can lie dormant in the soil until the right conditions emerge.

It is also a patient weed, which can be annoying because you often grows after you think it’s dead or hasn’t germinated. Spurge seeds that sprout early in the spring when it’s colder often remain seedlings until the weather becomes better. However, since spotted spurge requires light for germination, seeds planted more than 1/2 inch deep do not germinate well.

How to Identify Spotted Spurge

Identifying any type of weed is the first step to getting rid of it. Therefore, here are some visual signs and characteristics to look for.

Visual Characteristics 

Spotted Spurge, like other spurges, grows prostrate and spreads itself flat on the ground. The stems are up to 45 centimeters, or 18 inches, long, and the weed is almost always found close to the ground; it rarely reaches even a foot high.

It has tiny dark green leaves that emerge from its stems and are 1.5 inches long and 1/8 – 1/4 inches in width. These leaves are oval in shape and arranged in pairs that grow opposite to each other along the length of the stem.

Spotted spurge has tiny, pinkish blooms that require you to look closely in order to see them with any amount of detail. The flowers, stems, and leaves are usually coated in tiny hairs. A small, dark crimson spot will often be seen in the centre of the leaves, and this is where spotted spurge gets its name.

Growth Stages

Spotted spurge can sprout in temperatures as low as 60°F and as high as 100°F, although the most common temperature range is between 75° and 85°. If there is adequate moisture, germination generally occurs between February and September. Spurge is an annual weed that blooms primarily in the summer months.

If any seeds are produced in the summer, they will germinate quickly, whereas seeds born in the winter take longer and typically germinate in the springtime.

Other Unique Traits

As mentioned above, the sap of the Spotted Spurge weed is a mild skin irritant and could induce a rash in some people; it is also poisonous and potentially carcinogenic.

Plants That Look Like Spotted Spurge

Spotted Spurge is similar to other spurges, which are other members of the Euphorbia family, and in particular closely resembles Prostate Spurge (Euphorbia prostrata) and Matted Sandmat (Euphorbia serpens).

However, both of these weeds should be simple to distinguish from Spotted Spurge once you know what to look for. For example, Prostate Spurge has leaves that are shorter than Spotted Spurge, and they are also more rounded and less pointy at the tips. As for Matted Sandmat, that also has much shorter and more rounded leaves than Spotted Spurge, as well as larger cyathia in the center of its flowers.

How to Get Rid of Spotted Spurge

There are several methods to rid your lawn of spotted spurge, including pulling it out by hand, using a weed killer or herbicide, or covering them with transparent plastic and leaving them in the sun until their roots perish fully.

Pulling out the weeds by hand should be the first thing you try. If this doesn’t work, cover your lawn or garden with transparent plastic sheeting and leave it there for four to six weeks during the hottest season (usually August). The trapped heat will eventually destroy any weed seeds in its midst, including spotted spurge, and will stop any germination that might otherwise have occurred.

If you want to use an herbicide to kill the weed, we recommend using a weed killer that contains glyphosate as an active ingredient; do not use a 2,4-D based weed killer, since it will not be effective against spotted spurge.

Summing Up

The best way to avoid Spotted Spurge is by knowing what it looks like. If you can identify this invasive weed early, you can take steps to get rid of it before it becomes a problem.

We hope this article helped you learn a little bit more about Spotted Spurge, and particularly how it will appear to you if you stumble across it, and its growth and flowering pattern and comparing it to other weed species. There are some general characteristics that can help you identify this weed if you see it in your garden or landscape.

If you’re not sure whether a plant is spotted spurge, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. We want to make sure we keep this pest under control so it doesn’t cause any damage in our community. Thanks for reading!