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Thursday, 07 December 2017 11:24

Hey SW Sask.:do you recall seeing leafy spurge?

Written by  Dallas Peters
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Leafy Spurge is an invasive weed that is easy to recognize once you have seen it! It features alternate, long, narrow, waxy leaves that attach directly to the smooth stem of the plant. If a leaf or stem is broken a white sticky sap will ooze out.

This milky ooze is a toxicant and irritant to both livestock and humans, making it a negative impact on grazing lands. In summer the plant’s stems and leaves are a bluish green colour and by late summer the plant turns a reddish orange. The flowers are easily recognizable as small yellow flowers supported by two heart-shaped green bracts on each.
The flowers grow in clusters and can set and produce over 130,000 seeds which literally explode from the capsule when mature! This allows the plant to spread seed up to five meters away from itself all at once! Because of the plant’s extreme and rapid methods of reproduction and resilience to many control methods it is a very difficult noxious weed to eradicate and control. Many infected areas require a combination of control methods which can include chemical, mechanical such as mowing, grazing by sheep and goats, and other means of biocontrol. One means of control mentioned is biocontrol which uses natural ways to control the plant without chemical or mechanical means. This can include recruiting the help of the Leafy Spurge Beetle.Biocontrol is a safer alternative to chemical and mowing controls and uses the advantage of a natural predator to the plant.
In July of 2017 Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards collected and released Leafy Spurge Beetles at various locations in the watershed by request of interested landowners.
The Stewards provide this service free of charge and are hoping that given time at these locations the beetles will establish and begin making an impact on the spurge. There are two species of the beetle: The brown and black beetle with sub species of each. The adults can be seen on spurge foliage feeding and taking in the sun while the larvae will feed on the roots of the plant. If a good establishment is made by a population of beetles they will gradually begin to slow the spread of the spurge, though it may take many years to do so. Combining different means of control can be a benefit if in areas where spraying or mowing is not practical or safe to do so.
For more information or if you are interested in the beetles please contact the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards at 306-770-4607 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We are also on the web at and Facebook and Twitter!
Technical information was sourced from The Saskatchewan Invasive Species Council, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Native Plant Society of Sask.
Dallas Peters is a BMP technician for Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards.

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