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Cypress spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias)

Cypress spurge Synonyms: Galarhoeus cyparissias, Tithymalus cyparissias

Common Names: Graveyard spurge

Description: Introduced to North America as an ornamental plant in the 1860s; widely planted in cemeteries and often called "graveyard weed".

Habit: Erect, herbaceous to semi-woody perennial; grows 6-12 in in height.

Leaves: Numerous, bright green in color, linear in nature, alternate along the stem and in whorls where they subtend the inflorescence; 0.4-1 in long and 0.04-0.1 in wide.

Stems: Erect, semi-woody.

Flowers: Bright yellow-green in color that turn to purple-red as they mature, clustered at the top of plant, the true flowers are small and lack sepals or petals; blooms in May through August.

Fruit and seeds: The fruit is three lobed and contains 1-3 egg shaped smooth gray seeds; fruits are explosive capsules that split open when mature and throw seed to over 16 ft.

Habitat: Native to Eurasia. Found in meadows, pastures, road edges, cemeteries, right-of-ways, dunes, pannes, coastal headlands, grasslands and calcareous glades. Prefers dry to moist sandy, gravelly or calcareous soils.

Reproduction: Vegetatively through lateral root buds, forming extensive clonal populations; the taproot may reach lengths of approximately 10 ft and give rise to lateral roots, which produce adventitious buds.

Similar species: Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula).

Monitoring and rapid response: Manual control can be difficult due to extensive root system; effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as glyphosate; There are eleven species of European insects (Five chrysomelid beetles in the genus Aphthona and one cecidomyiid fly gall midge, Spurgia esulae Gagne) which have been effective control.

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (

Common Name:

Cypress spurge

Scientific Name:

Euphorbia cyparissias







USDA Symbol: