Is this a Weed?

(Question)

tia1125786152-1200x213320160726_081205Hi there!

We are brand new homeowners as of 1 Year and just starting to discover our new garden :)

My husband and I can’t seem to agree on this plant (see attached photo) – I think it looks nice, he thinks it’s a weed. I must admit though, it does seem to be taking over our lily of the valley a little bit compared to last year.

We are in Toronto near High Park, and I’ve noticed it’s a pretty common plant here, I saw it at my sister’s place as well. It grows with the lily of the valley, mostly in the mottled shade of a tree.

In the photo below, you can see a more mature plant on the left growing above the lily of the valley. The more mature plants have elongated leaves growing in clusters (often but not always forming 5-tipped star shapes) near the base of stems, and round little triangular leaves at the tops.

The younger plant on the right of the photo shows the long leaves more clearly, with just a few of the rounder leaves starting to sprout at the top of the stem. The stem bleeds white sap when cut. There is a glove thrown in for scale ;)

Any ideas what it is? Should we start tearing it out? Thanks so much for your help! :-)

 

(Answer)

Well, Nadine, there is an old saying, “A weed is simply a plant in the wrong place”, so perhaps I am contributing to marital harmony by suggesting you are both right. The plant is Euphorbia dulcis or sweet spurge. In the variety, “Chameleon”, it is a very popular ornamental. However, as you’ve discovered, it does grow very well in dry shade and can spread by self -seeding vigorously.

You might want to control it by removing the spent flower stalks in late summer before they can release seeds. And perhaps weed out some of the existing plants to keep them from choking the lily of the valley. Any new seedlings that do pop up next spring can be pulled or dug out and transplanted to another area of the garden.