Euphorbia maculata, known as spotted spurge or prostrate spurge, the latter name not to be confused with Euphorbia prostrata, is a fast-growing annual plant in the family Euphorbiaceae, native to North America. It is a common garden and lawn weed in the United States.
Prostrate spurge growing on disturbed soil.
It grows in sunny locations and a variety of soils, and functions as a pioneer species in ecological succession. The sap of this plant is a mild skin irritant and can cause a rash in some people. The sap is poisonous and considered carcinogenic
Euphorbia maculata is typically prostrate, with specimens rarely reaching up as high as 30 centimetres (12 in). The stems spread out in a mat along the ground with each stem rarely greater than 45 centimetres (18 in) long. The leaves are oval but rather elongate, up to 3 centimetres (1.2 in) long, and arranged in opposite pairs. The cyathia, bisexual reproductive structures unique to plants in the genus, are very small, with four white petal-like appendages that are sometimes pink.
The leaves are often are marked with a reddish spot in the center, a feature that led to the common name of spotted spurge. It is similar to Euphorbia prostrata, but that species has shorter leaves that are more rounded at the tips. It may occasionally be confused with Euphorbia serpens but the very short and rounded leaves of E. serpens in combination with the larger (but still inconspicuous) cyathia should remove any potential for confusion.
This plant might be poisonous
How to get rid of:
Prostrate spurge (Euphorbia maculata), also called spotted spurge, is a tricky annual weed that grows during the summer months in sunny, hot areas. Once spurge takes root, it can spread fast and be tough to get rid of! Give soil solarization or mulching a try to get rid of spurge without using chemicals. Different types of herbicides can also be effective, although you have to be careful where and when you apply them. Frequent mowing and regular lawn maintenance can help you keep spurge in check!