Originally native to Europe, was introduced to North America in the 1860s by the colonists as an ornamental plant. It is sometimes called Graveyard weed as it is often seen in country graveyards. It usually has a height of 6 to 12 inches. Its petal-like bracts are usually green-yellow, maturing to purple or red from May to August. Cypress Spurge grows a fruit that, when mature, explodes to spread seeds up to 16 feet. However the plant also reproduces through lateral root buds which allows it to spread quick and densely. It can be easily identified by its leaves, which are small and linear (they have a length of 2 to 4 cm and a width of 1 to 2 mm). When broken, cypress spurge, like all spurges, emits a milky sap.
Natural habitat types include dunes, pannes, coastal headlands and grasslands. In North America it is commonly found in the dry, gravelly soil of roadsides, pastures, and meadows. Cypress spurge thrives in open, disturbed areas.