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Weed Identification

cypress spurge



Scientific Name

Euphorbia cyparissias

Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Galarhoeus cyparissias
Tithymalus cyparissias


An invasive perennial that reproduces by seed and lateral root buds. Cypress spurge emits a milky sap when broken, and is very similar to leafy spurge, which is an extremely aggressive weed that more commonly occurs in the western United States.


Leaves are linear, approximately 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches long and 1 to 2 mm wide. Upper stem leaves that occur near the inflorescence are yellow or yellowish green in color. All leaves emit a milky sap when broken. Stems are without hairs and green to yellowish green in color, branching in the upper portions. Stems also emit a milky sap when broken.

Identifying Characteristics

Plants with linear leaves with yellowish-green flowers. Additionally, the fact that all parts of these plants emit a milky sap when broken readily identifies them as a Euphorbia species. Leafy spurge is similar in appearance, but is much taller with wider leaves that aren't nearly as linear in outline as those of cypress spurge.

Flower Seed Head

Flowers typically bloom from March to May in Virginia. Flowers are greenish yellow to yellow in color, and are clustered in bunches at the ends of stems.

Seed Fruit

A capsule 2 to 3 mm long.

Where Found

Cypress spurge is a weed of pastures, hay fields, fence rows, roadsides, and landscapes.

Thorns or Spines

not present

Approximate Flower Diameter


Dominant Flower Color


Leaf Hairs

no hairs

Leaf Shape


Leaf Margin


Leaf Stalk

longer than leaf

Stem Hairs

no hairs

Stem Cross Section

round or oval

Milky Sap


Root Structure

rhizomes present

Life Cycle



not present

Plant Type