Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Cypress Spurge: Euphorbia cyparissias

cypressspurge4-25b.jpg (211329 bytes) Weed Description:  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.  Cypress spurge is a weed of pastures, hay fields, fence rows, roadsides, and landscapes.
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: Stems are without hairs and green to yellowish green in color, branching in the upper portions.   Stems also emit a milky sap when broken.

Flowers:  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.

cypressspurge4-25.jpg (189755 bytes)
cypressspurge8-15.jpg (196645 bytes) Fruit:  A capsule 2 to 3 mm long.

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.