The Q&A Archives: Weed Identification

Question: My mother recently moved into a new house in Portland, OR and was weeding her front parkway when she discovered a tall (about 4 feet), greyish green weed. It has spear shaped leaves arranged in opposing pairs up the stem and 3 part seeds (or seed pods, maybe). When she hacked it off, the milky sap that landed on her skin caused red welts that appear to be chemical burns and persisted a couple of weeks. I am thinking that the plant may be in the poinsetta family. Could you provide an identification? Thanks!

Answer: With irritating milky juice, it's probably in the Euphorbia family, perhaps leafy spurge. But, without seeing the flowers, it's difficult to positively identify. You might want to take a sample to your local Extension office for absolute identification. Reach Master Gardeners at Oregon State University Cooperative Extension, 950 W 13th Ave., Eugene 97402. Phone (541) 687-4243.

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