Prostrate spurge

Encyclopedia Article

Spotted spurge            Euphorbia maculata  L.
Prostrate spurge Euphorbia humistrata Engelm. ex Gray

Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family)
Life cycle: Annual
Native status: Native
Habitat: Lawns, gardens, vegetable production fields

General description: Prostrate, mat forming annual with small (<0.5 in long) egg-shaped or linear leaves. Milky sap present in stems and leaves. Leaves often have a dark spot in center.

Key ID traits: Milky sap; small, oppositely arranged leaves.

Similar species: Prostrate spurge and spotted spurge are difficult to distinguish, and some botanists consider them the same species. Prostrate spurge often has light green leaves and roots at stem nodes. Both species can have dark colored spots on their leaves. Nodding spurge has larger leaves and the stems are often semi-erect. Prostrate knotweed has similar shaped leaves and a prostrate growth habit, but knotweed leaves are alternate, ochreas are present where leaves join the stem, and it lacks the milky sap.


Prostrate growth habit of prostrate spurge.

Opposite, linear leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers of prostrate spurge.  This plant found a hole in plastic mulch used in commercial vegetable production.