Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia escula)
Leafy Spurge In the Rockies
This is an invasive species brought over from Russia at some point in the early 1800’s. They are avoided by cattle and can be fatal if they eat too much. This plant can be found all over the Rockies.
The Leafy spurge is a close relative to the Christmas plant or poinsettia. It has a milky, latex substance inside (similar to milkweed). This substance can cause burning and rashes if it gets on your skin and is exposed to sunlight. A similar painful rash can also be seen in the cow parsnip plant. This plant should not be handled by people. The roots tend to have a strong concentration of a dangerous carcinogen. Eating this plant can cause depression and is considered toxic. In large doses it has been known to cause heart attacks and death.
This plant might appear to have flowers, however it only has “bracks” or colored leaves that look like flowers. The leafy spurge is considered a noxious weed and will overtake fields with no trouble. The animals tend to graze around them, leaving them free to spread easily.