Noxious weed of the month: leafy spurge


By Ethan Proud
SUN Columnist
Leafy spurge is undoubtedly a pretty plant, but is hiding sinister traits that allow it to spread quickly in just a few seasons. Three chambered, exploding seed heads project its progeny up to 15 feet from the mother plant, which spreads from its roots, producing new shoots.
Hand-pulling this plant is a poor management choice as its roots can extend 17 feet deep and spread 15 feet laterally, with new growth emerging from root buds at any depth. Any root fragments will sprout a new plant. Leafy spurge also contains a milky latex which is caustic and can cause burns on your skin as well as the mouths of grazing animals, leading to gastrointestinal problems.
If you are dead-set on using mechanical means to manage leafy spurge, it can be mowed every two to four weeks to prevent seed set, but this will not offer long-term control.
Due to the deep root system of the plant, repeated annual herbicide applications are necessary. Biological controls have shown varied success in managing the population, but will also require repeat releases. Leafy spurge infests nearly 3 million acres across 29 states, causing economic losses of $130 million.
Archuleta County Weed and Pest staff has identified, mapped and treated populations of spurge that occur from North Piedra, through the Pagosa Lakes area and to County Road 500. If you spot this plant, please report it to Weed and Pest so that proper management may be employed to first contain and then eradicate the species. A single outlier population can help spread the plant beyond its current boundaries.
Upcoming events
May 25: Bee workshop. We will be heading to the Banded Peaks Ranch to visit with beekeeping experts and get hands-on experience with the bees. The workshop costs $25 and is limited to 20 people. Lunch will be provided. This is an all-day workshop, so please wear appropriate clothing and anything else you would need for being outside all day. Please call the office to sign up and pay, 264-5931.
Aug. 1-4: Archuleta County Fair. Do you quilt or sew, can vegetables or fruit, grow hay crops, veggies or flowers? Maybe you do leather or wood work? Possibly brew beer or make wine? Or, maybe you have a hidden crafting talent that you would like share with us? If so, then you can enter the Archuleta County Fair Open Classes. Go to to find out how to enter. It’s homegrown and county pride.
CPR and first aid classes
CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.
We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.