Spotted Spurge

Description

Spotted spurge is a summer annual with a taproot; it has an open and prostrate mat-forming growth habit. It branches freely from the base. The reddish or green prostrate stems form a mat-like growth which often chokes out desirable turfgrasses. When the stems are broken they emit a milky juice. The leaves are opposite and vary in color from a pale reddish-green to a dark green but usually have a conspicuous maroon blotch. The leaves are smooth or sparsely hairy, toothed especially near the tip and unequally sided at the base with a short petiole. Flowers are very small, pinkish-white, inconspicuous, and borne in the leaf axils. Spotted spurge may flower within three to four weeks after emerging in mid-summer. The fruit, a three-lobed capsule, develops rapidly. Spurge is often found in fields, gardens, turf and waste areas.

Cultural Control

Prostrate spurge can survive close mowing because of its prostrate growth habit. It forms a mat-like growth which often chokes out desirable turfgrasses. Maintain a dense, actively growing turf through proper mowing, fertilizing, and watering practices. Mow at the proper height for your selected adapted turfgrass. Coring and traffic control reduce compaction and encourage desirable turfgrass competition. It is best to control this summer annual broadleaf weed in late spring or early summer because it is easier to control at this time and the turf will have a greater chance of recovering the areas previously occupied by weeds.

Chemical Control

Herbicide and Formulation Amount of Formulation per 1,000 sq ft Amount of Formulation per Acre Pounds Active Ingredient per Acre
Preemergence and Postemergence Control
mesotrione, MOA 27 (4 SC) (Tenacity) 0.092 to 0.183 fl oz 4 to 8 fl oz 0.125 to 0.25
Precaution and Remarks: Use on residential turf, golf courses (not greens) and sod farms for pre- and postemergence weed control. Tolerant turfgrasses include St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass. Add a nonionic surfactant and repeat application after 2 to 3 weeks for improved postemergence control. Tank mix with prodiamine 65 WG for extended preemergence grassy weed control. Can be applied at seeding to all tolerant grasses except fine fescue. After turf germination, wait 4 weeks or until turf has been mowed twice before making a postemergence application. Also controls henbit, chickweed, dandelion, white clover, Florida betony, Florida pusley, ground ivy, oxalis, wild violet, creeping bentgrass, and yellow nutsedge.​
[sulfentrazone + prodiamine], MOA 14 + 3 (4 SC) (Echelon) 0.184 to 0.826 fl oz 0.5 to 2.25 pt 0.25 to 1.125
Precaution and Remarks: For use in residential and institutional lawns, athletic fields, sod farms, golf course fairways and roughs, roadsides, utility right-of-ways, railways, and industrial areas. Apply to turf following a second mowing if a good root system has been established. Apply up to 12 fluid ounces per acre to bentgrass at 0.5 inch or higher, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Apply 18 to 24 fluid ounces per acre to perennial bluegrass, tall fescue, and all warm season grasses except St. Augustinegrass (do not apply) and bermudagrass (apply 18 to 36 fluid ounces per acre). For sod production, apply 6 months after establishment, and do not harvest within 3 months. Do not apply with adjuvants or surfactants. [Sulfentrazone + prodiamine should not be applied to cool-season turf with N-containing fertilizers unless some short-term discoloration is tolerable.​
Postemergence Control
[thiencarbazone-methyl + iodosulfuron + dicamba], MOA 14 + 2 + 4 (68 WG) (Celsius WG) 0.057 to 0.113 oz 2.5 to 4.9 oz 0.106 to 0.208
Precaution and Remarks: For use by licensed applicators in residential and commercial lawns, golf courses (excluding greens), sports fields, parks, recreational areas, roadsides, school grounds, and sod farms. Provides up to 60 days residual control. Use on bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, and St Augustinegrass. Apply maximum 7.4 ounces per acre per season. Safe to use at high temperatures. Ryegrass can be overseeded 2 weeks after application. Apply 30 days prior to seeding bermudagrass or zoysiagrass. Wait 2 weeks after bermudagrass seedlling emergence or sprigging operation before applying. For zoysiagrass, wait 3 weeks after seedling emergence before applying. A nonionic surfactant or methylated seed oil at 0.25% v/v is required for optimum control.​
mecoprop, MOA 4 (various brands) 1.9 L 1 to 1.5 fl oz 2.7 to 4 pt 0.64 to 0.95
1.16 L 1.5 to 2.25 fl oz 4 to 6 pt 0.58 to 0.87
1.74 L 0.75 to 1.5 fl oz 2 to 4 pt 0.43 to 0.87
Precaution and Remarks: Observe same precaution as for 2,4-D. May be used on bentgrass, carpetgrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and other turfgrasses.
dicamba, MOA 4 (4 SL) (Banvel) 1 to 2 tsp 0.5 to 1 pt 0.25 to 0.5
Precaution and Remarks: Apply as foliar spray to growing weeds. Prevent injury to ornamentals. Avoid rooting zone of shallow-rooted trees and shrubs.​
diglycolamine, MOA 4 (4 SL) (various brands) 1 to 4.5 tsp 0.5 to 2 pt 0.25 to 1
Precaution and Remarks: Do not exceed 1 pint per acre on bentgrass, carpetgrass, buffalograss, and St. Augustinegrass. Apply to newly seeded grasses after the second mowing. Do not exceed 0.25 pint per acre on extended sensitve plant roots on sandy soils and 0.5 pint per acre on clay soils.​
carfentrazone-ethyl, MOA 14 (1.9 EW) (various brands) 0.0126 to 0.048 fl oz 0.55 to 2.1 fl oz 0.008 to 0.031
Precaution and Remarks: May be applied to bahiagrass, bermudagrass, buffalograss, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, zoysiagrass, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, perennial ryegrass, and bentgrass. To expand the weed spectrum and extend control of the weeds listed here and on the label, carfentrazone-ethyl can be tank mixed with the entire range of phenoxy products—amines, esters, and other salts—and is also compatible with dicamba, atrazine, glyphosate, glufosinate, clopyralid, triclopyr, and MSMA. When applied alone, add 0.12 to 0.25% nonionic surfactant.​
[carfentrazone + 2,4-D ester + MCPP + dicamba], MOA 14 + 4 + 4 + 4 (2.2 EC) (Speed Zone) 0.75 to 1.8 fl oz 2 to 5 pt 0.55 to 1.375
Precaution and Remarks: May be used on annual and perennial bluegrass, annual and perennial ryegrass, tall and fine fescue, creeping and colonial bentgrass, common and hybrid bermudagrass, and zoysiagrass. For use in ornamental turf, golf courses, lawns, sod farms, cemeteries, and parks. Optimum results when applied when temperatures are between 45 and 75 degrees F but may be applied up to 90 degrees F. Lower rates may be used in cooler weather. Rainfast within 3 hr and may reseed after 2 week. May apply 3 to 4 wk after sodding, sprigging, or plugging. Also may be used on bahiagrass, buffalograss, St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, seashore paspalum, and kikuyugrass. May reseed after 1 week.​
[carfentrazone + 2,4-D ester + MCPP + dicamba], MOA 14 + 4 + 4 + 4 (0.81 EC) (Speed Zone Southern) 0.55 to 2.2 fl oz 1.5 to 6 pt 0.1519 to 0.6075
Precaution and Remarks: May be used on annual and perennial bluegrass, annual and perennial ryegrass, tall and fine fescue, creeping and colonial bentgrass, common and hybrid bermudagrass, and zoysiagrass. For use in ornamental turf, golf courses, lawns, sod farms, cemeteries, and parks. Optimum results when applied when temperatures are between 45 and 75 degrees F but may be applied up to 90 degrees F. Lower rates may be used in cooler weather. Rainfast within 3 hr and may reseed after 2 week. May apply 3 to 4 wk after sodding, sprigging, or plugging. Also may be used on bahiagrass, buffalograss, St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, seashore paspalum, and kikuyugrass. May reseed after 1 week.​
[carfentrazone + MCPA ester + MCPP + dicamba], MOA 14 + 4 + 4 + 4 (2.91 EC) (Power Zone) 0.75 to 2.2 fl oz 2 to 6 pt 0.7275 to 2.1825
Precaution and Remarks: Same precautions and turf uses as [carfentrazone + 2,4-D ester + MCPP + dicamba] 2.2 EC except cannot be applied to creeping and colonial bentgrass.
penoxsulam + sulfentrazone + 2,4-D + dicamba (Avenue South) 1.0 to 2.2 fl oz 2.7 to 6 pt 0.271 to 0.602
Precaution and Remarks: May be used on established Kentucky bluegrass, annual bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, annual ryegrass, tall fescue, common and hybrid bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, and seashore paspalum. Do not apply more than 2.7 pints per acre on fescue or perennial ryegrass unless turf injury can be tolerated. Do not apply more than 3.5 pints per acre on St. Augustinegrass unless injury, discoloration, stunting, and thinning can be tolerated.
[sulfentrazone + 2,4-D amine + MCPP + dicamba], MOA 14 + 4 + 4 + 4 (2.18 SL) (Surge) 0.92 to 1.84 fl oz 2.5 to 5 pt 0.68 to 1.36
Precaution and Remarks: Apply 2.5 to 3.25 pints per acre on warm season turf including bermudagrass species, zoysiagrass, bahiagrass, and buffalograss. Apply 3.25 to 4 pints per acre on cool season turf including species of bluegrass, ryegrass, fescue, and bentgrass (excluding greens and tees). 4 to 5 pints per acre needed to control corn speedwell and wild violet. Turf areas include residential, ornamental, institutional, and sod farms. Apply to grass seedlings after second mowing. Apply to sodded, sprigged, or plugged areas 3 to 4 weeks after operations. Treated areas may be reseeded 3 weeks after application.​
[triclopyr ester + sulfentrazone + 2,4-D ester + dicamba], MOA 4 + 14 + 4 + 4 (2.51 EC) (Tzone SE) 0.75 to 1.5 fl oz 2 to 4 pt 0.628 to 1.26
Precaution and Remarks: Apply 2 to 2.25 pints per acre on fully dormant bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and bahiagrass. Apply 3.25 to 4 pints per acre on annual and perennial bluegrass and ryegrass, and tall, red, and fine fescue. Rainfast within 3 hours. Approved turf areas include residential, ornamental, institutional, noncropland, and sod farms. Apply to grass seedlings after the second or third mowing. Apply to sodded, sprigged, or plugged areas 3 to 4 weeks after operations. Treated areas may be reseeded 3 weeks after application.​

Species Data

  • GROWTH SEASON / LIFE CYCLE
    • summer annual weed
  • GROWTH HABIT
  • LEAFLET NUMBER
  • LEAF MARGIN
    • serrated / toothed; leaf must be closely examined to see serrated edges
  • LEAF HAIRS
    • hairs not common, but are sometimes present
  • LEAF / LEAFLET SHAPE
    • oval / egg-shaped / elliptical; note the purple splotch in the middle of some leaves
  • LEAF WIDTH
    • <12 inch
  • LEAF VENATION
    • pinnate
  • LEAF ARRANGEMENT
    • opposite
  • ROOT TYPE
    • taproot
  • FLOWER COLOR
Spotted spurge growth habit.Figure 1. Spotted spurge growth habit.Spotted spurge growth habit.Figure 2. Spotted spurge growth habit.Spotted spurge growth habit.Figure 3. Spotted spurge growth habit.Spotted spurge growth habit.Figure 4. Spotted spurge growth habit.Spotted spurge leaflet number.Figure 5. Spotted spurge leaflet number.Spotted spurge leaflet number.Figure 6. Spotted spurge leaflet number. Spotted spurge flower color.Figure 7. Spotted spurge flower color.Spotted spurge flower color.Figure 8. Spotted spurge flower color.

Written By

Photo of Dr. Charles PeacockDr. Charles PeacockProfessor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist (919) 515-7615 charles_peacock@ncsu.eduCrop and Soil Sciences - NC State University
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https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/spotted-spurge