Cypress Spurge

Cypress Spurge

Euphorbia cyparissias
Status in Squamish:
Status in Whistler:
Status in Pemberton:
 Vectors of Spread: 


ID Characteristics

General: Cypress Spurge is a perennial that is most easily recognized by its flowers.

Flowers: Small, greenish-yellow female and male flowers clustered into an umbrella-shaped cluster, called an umbel.

Stems: Can grow to be between 10 – 60 cm and are branch-less. Stems and leaves exude a milky, toxic sap when broken.

Leaves:  Are thin, waxy and blue-green, 2.5 – 3 cm long. They can grow in an alternate pattern along the stem, or in a spiral (whorl). Branch leaves are needle-like and are narrower than stem leaves.

Seeds: Seed capsules are 3 mm long, grey, grooved and oval-shaped. They contain pale yellow, hairy (glabrous) seeds.

Similar Species


Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula) is often confused with Cypress Spurge, as it is a perennial which can grow up to 0.8 m tall with greenish-yellow flowers and leaves that are spirally arranged on the stem. Like Cypress Spurge, it contains a white milky latex that can be toxic to humans and livestock. Both spurges are invasive.




Please report any sighting of Cypress Spurge by clicking here.

Habitat and Origin

Cypress Spurge was brought to North America from Europe and Western Asia as a garden ornamental.

In North America, Cypress Spurge is commonly found in dry, gravelly roadsides, pastures, and meadows. It thrives in open, disturbed areas with stony, sandy, or dry soils. While it prefers direct sunlight, it is also tolerant of shade.

Propagation and Vectors of Spread

Cypress Spurge reproduces predominantly by seed, but roots can also form new, genetically identical plants by creeping rhizomes (horizontal roots that grow outward and send up clones). It can also form new plants from root fragments. Cypress Spurge has a rapid regeneration time.

Cypress Spurge can be locally spread by vegetative reproduction through its root system, but long-distance dispersal occurs through the transport of seeds. Wind predominantly spreads the seeds, but water, animals, and humans (via clothing, vehicles, etc.) may also aid in their spread. Note that cultivating Cypress Spurge can contribute to its spread, as root pieces can get caught on machinery and be transported to new locations.


Economic and Ecological Impacts


  • Alters native grasslands biodiversity.
  • Displaces wildlife and livestock by eliminating forage areas due to dense colonies.
  • Crowds out pastures.
  • Decreases moisture and nutrients in soils.


  • Contains a milky latex that can irritate skin of humans and irritate skin and mouths of livestock.


  • Reduces the abundance of desirable vegetation
  • Reduces cattle grazing and hay production capacities.
  • Reduces value of pastures; contaminates hay fields.
What Can I Do?

The best approach to controlling the spread of Cypress Spurge is PREVENTION.


Learn to identify Cypress Spurge: use the images presented in this profile page.

What to do if you spot it: You can report any Cypress Spurge sighting by clicking here.

  • Regularly monitor properties for weed infestations.
  • Ensure soil and gravel is uncontaminated before transport.
  • Minimize soil disturbances (e.g. use grazing plans that prevent soil exposure from overgrazing), and use seed mixes with dense, early colonization (e.g. alfalfa or barley) to re-vegetate exposed soil and resist invasion.
  • Minimize soil disturbance in the area surrounding an infestation.
  • Ensure plants (particularly flowering heads or root fragments) are bagged or covered to prevent spread during transport to designated disposal sites (e.g. landfill).


  • DO NOT plant Cypress Spurge in a garden, no matter how well-contained its enclosure may seem.
  • DO NOT move soil that has been contaminated with Cypress Spurge.
  • DO NOT uUnload, park, or store equipment or vehicles in infested areas; remove plant material from any equipment, vehicles, or clothing used in such areas and wash equipment and vehicles at designated cleaning sites before leaving infested areas.
  • DO NOT mow or weed-whack Cypress Spurge, as the fragments can propagate as new colonies. Frequent mowing may also accelerate shoot development, leading plants to spread laterally from the parent plant.
  • DO NOT compost Cypress Spurge.



Mechanical Control

  • Hand-pull infestations when the soil is moist;  make sure you are wearing protective gloves and remove the entire root system.
  • Mowing or tilling at regular intervals can adequately reduce weed progression at first bloom; however, this can stimulate new growth.
  • If attempting to control Cypress Spurge mechanically, it is important to consistently mow the area (approx. every 21 days).

Chemical Control

  • On small infestations, picloram or a combination of picloram and 2,4-D (applied before flowers emerge) has proven effective. However, note that picloram is not suitable for wet, coastal soils.
  • Alternatively, annual applications of dicamba and 2,4-D, or monthly applications of glyphosate, have also shown success.
  • We recommend that any herbicide application be carried out by a person holding a valid BC Pesticide Applicator Certificate. Before selecting and applying herbicides, you must review and follow herbicide labels and application rates; municipal, regional, provincial and federal laws and regulations; species-specific treatment recommendations, and site-specific goals and objectives.

Biological Control

Flea beetle (Aphthona cyparissiae and A. nigristucus); grazing by sheep and goats.


Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia, Euphorbia cyparissias,

Faubert, H. and R.A. Casagrande, “Cypress Spurge” in Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the Eastern United States,

Fraser Valley Invasive Species Society, Cypress Spurge,

Government of BC, Hyles euphorbiae,

Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, Cypress Spurge,

Invasive Species Council of BC, Cypress Spurge,

Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society, Cypress Spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias),

Northwest Invasive Plant Council, Cypress Spurge,

Peace River Regional District, Cypress Spurge,

US Department of Agriculture Fire Effects Information System, Euphorbia cyparrissias,