Leafy Spurge


One of the more interesting-in-appearance plants that I encounter is Leafy Spurge.


The word Spurge is a shortening of the Old French word espurge meaning to cleanse. Apparently the milky latex found within the plant was used to purge the digestive system.

Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia vigata)

Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia vigata)

The Latin name Euphorbia comes from Euphorbus who was the Greek physician of Juba ll, King of Mauretania. Juba was educated in Rome and married the daughter of Anthony and Cleopatra. Euphorbus wrote about a cactus-like plant that he found which was used as a powerful laxative.


Vigata means wand-like in appearance.


Leafy Spurge has been introduced from Europe and can become a troublesome weed.


Its habitat is roadsides, cemeteries and disturbed sites.


What appear to be petals are actually nearly round, leafy, yellow-green bracts which help to support the flower structure.



Miles Hearn



  • virga’ta/virga’tum/virga’tus: wand-like, twiggy in growth, referring to the tall, bare stems

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