Creeping Summer Weeds–Spurge

This opportunistic weed will take advantage of any crack, crevice or opening–never mind perfectly good garden soil–to grow and spread out to amazing proportions.  It spreads by seed but you’ll almost never see its flowers–they’re nondescript little things hidden practically underneath all this foliage.  And to add to all that delightfulness, it had a tap-root that’s just a bear to dig out–while it’s not thick, like a dandelion’s can be, it can go very deep, almost assuring you’ll never get the whole thing.  This is a thoroughly unpleasant little (correction, huge!) weed!

When I tried to pull it, you can see that it came out without the root.  Worse yet, it exudes a sticky milky sap that gets all over your hands or gloves.  I don’t have a reaction to it but I wonder if some folks might.  In my reading about it, I did discover that it can cause contact dermatitis in “humans” and that the sap is poisonous to animals.  The weed is just more and more delightful.

There are a few varieties of this weed.  This one happens to be creeping spurge.  I know this because it lacks the tell-tale little reddish ovals in the middle of the leaf that distinguish it from spotted spurge–otherwise they look pretty much identical.

And while it is almost impossible to tell from either photo, all up and down the stems, the weed is loaded with flowers.  They are the sort of light  or buff colored areas at the junctions of the leaves.  Unless you’re carefully studying the plant, you just wouldn’t even know they are there.

Finally since the root didn’t come out with this plant, it will be back.  It was growing in a crack in the pavement by my rose garden.  So while I can be pleased that at least all these seeds won’t germinate, I will have to go back and try to get this plant out again sometime soon.  Maybe after all the rain we’ve had–or are about to get again!

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3 thoughts on “Creeping Summer Weeds–Spurge

  1. When I pull this spreading weed, I wait until after a rain. The ground is soft and mucky and the root tends to come with it then. You have to pull slow with a bit of a twist, then straight up.
    Another option is to put a teaspoon of table salt on the root. Its less toxic than store herbicides. It is a trick I learned while living in the country from an old farmer. He suggested it because I had a tree stump that kept sprouting. He said to drill half inch holes into the base of the stump and fill each with table salt and then top with vegetable oil. To my surprise it worked wonderfully!

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