Field of Science

Weed of the Week - Growing low

Here's a weed of the week (WOTW) that ranges from utterly insignificant to just small.  It grows in a low, spreading mat, seldom more than a centimeter tall, and is sometimes called the sandmat or prostrate spurge. Officially it has the totally appropriate name Euphorbia prostrata. It can grow, quickly, from cracks or seams in sidewalks, and it is very prolific making lots of seeds so this naturalized annual is sure to reappear next year.  While it can be pulled (do take care, the milky sap can be irritating) an herbicide treatment is perhaps the only way to keep this weed under control.  However you can at least admire how efficiently it covers space, and of course, the remarkable beauty of its flowering and fruiting display.  There are a couple of similar species, E. maculata and E. serpens, but generally these species have smooth stems and leaves while E. prostrata is hairy. Ever wonder why botanists often have a hand lens, which is their version of bling?  It's to see if plants like this are hairy or not.

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