Scientific Name: Euphorbia cyparissias

Common Name: cypress spurge

Synonyms: Galarhoeus cyparissias, Tithymalus cyparissias

Habit: 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: 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.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Present

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Euphorbiaceae

  • Leaf shape: needle

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire

  • Stem hairs: no hairs

  • Flower color: green; yellow

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Root structure: rhizomes present

  • Leaf stalk: longer than leaf