Leafy Spurge is on the move in county

Steve Klock Sheboygan County Invasive Species Coordinator

Who can name the State’s 5 listed noxious weeds? Yes, I just gave you 1 of the 5in the headline. Leafy spurge, pictured above, is the highly invasive perennial that you see blooming with small yellow flowers along the roads right now. I thought these flowering yellow plants were just wild mustard but when you take a closer look, the flowers and plant look nothing like the wild mustard so common in farmers’ fields later in the growing season. When pulled it exudes a sticky milky substance and thus its nick name “Wolf’s Milk”. A toxic compound found in the plant can cause severe diarby rhea if eaten by cattle or horses.

Leafy spurge can produce massive root systems 15’ deep and 35’ laterally and it is an abundant seed producer that can ‘eject’ ripe seeds up to 15’ from the parent plant. These seeds are readily moved by animals, people and equipment.

Eradication and even control of well-established populations can be very difficult so rapid response to a new small population is essential.

Here are some steps you can try: Attempt to hand pull and if you don’t get the entire root then break out the shovel. If this isn’t going to work or if the population is too large we are then pretty much limited to herbicides. Herbicides control is best when done in late summer-early fall. So you must cut and bag the plants throughout the growing season before the plants set seed. These efforts will prevent further seed production but since it is a perennial, it will not kill the plant. Following these steps you can then effectively apply one of the following herbicides:

Milestone VM: ½ oz/gallon of water (active ingredient is aminopyralid).

Plateau: 12 oz/gallon of water. Use with a methylated seed oil (MSO). (active ingredient is imazapic. This herbicide is a better choice near trees and shrubs .

Oh, the other 4 listed weeds? Canada thistle; field bindweed (creeping Jenny); purple loosestrife and multi-flora rose.


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