Native. Annual. Propagates by seeds. Time of bloom: May to October. Seed-time: June to November. Range: All of North America east of the Rocky Mountains except the extreme north. Habitat: Dry fields and meadows, old pastures, roadsides, and waste places.
Dry stubbles sometimes seem to redden with young Spurges in a few days after harvest, but usually the stalks were already there and it is their rapid stooling after beheading that causes the swift appearance. Its acrid, milky juice is credited with causing "slobbers" in grazing cattle and horses, and another symptom of Spurge poisoning is a wide-staring, glassy brightness of eyes, whence the common names. (Fig. 186.)
It is a graceful plant, with slender, round, wiry, reddish stem, six inches to two feet or more in height, smooth or nearly so, fork-branched and spreading. Leaves narrowly oblong, varying to ovate, or sometimes lance-shape and slightly curved, a half inch to an inch long, often with unequal sides, usually with red margins and a brownish red blotch in the center, finely and sharply toothed, with short petioles and triangular stipules. Flowers on peduncles longer than the petioles, the involucres narrowly obovoid, the four glands subtended by rounded, entire, white or red appendages. Pods smooth, the seeds grayish black, long ovoid, obtusely four-angled, wrinkled and tubercled between. They are nearly always found in clover and grass seed.
Burn over infested stubbles in order to kill the stalks and destroy the seeds on the surface of the ground. On cultivated ground, persistently hoe-cut or hand-pull the weed before seed matures. Infested meadows should be put to some well-tilled crop, liberally fertilized, before reseeding heavily to grass or clover.