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Effective control of Myrtle spurge

Myrtle spurge is designated as a “List A” species in the Colorado Noxious Weed Act.

It is designated for statewide eradication.

Myrtle spurge contains a toxic, milky sap which can cause severe skin irritations, including blistering. This plant is poisonous if ingested; causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Wearing gloves, long sleeves, shoes and eye protection is highly recommended when in contact with myrtle spurge, as all plant parts are considered poisonous.

Myrtle spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) is a low growing perennial with trailing fleshy stems. The leaves are fleshy, blue-green and alternate. Flowers are inconspicuous with yellow-green, petal-like bracts that appear from March to May. Myrtle spurge spreads by seed and plants are capable of projecting seeds up to 15 feet. The plant grows from a taproot, with new stems emerging in early spring and dying back in the winter. Plants can grow up to 8-12 inches high and 12-18 inches in width.

Myrtle spurge is an invasive ornamental that is native to Eurasia. It is popular with xeriscapes and rock gardens, preferring sunny to partly sunny areas and well drained soils. Myrtle spurge rapidly escapes gardens and invades sensitive ecosystems, out competing native vegetation and reducing wildlife forage. Alternatives to planting myrtle spurge include native plants such as sulphur flower (Erigonum umbellatum), Kinnikinnick (artcostaphylos uvursi), or creeping mahonia (Mahonia repens). The soil seed reserve of myrtle spurge is estimated to be eight years. The site must be monitored for at least nine years after the last flowering adult plants have been eliminated and treatments repeated when necessary.

The key to effective control of myrtle spurge is to remove plants prior to seed set and to detect and remove new populations in natural areas early on.

Small areas can be easily removed by mechanical means, but should be done early to prevent triggering seed launching. Hand pull or dig when soil is moist. Make certain to pull all the roots and wear rubber gloves and eye protection to protect yourself from the toxic milky sap.

Treatment follow up is important to check root fragment resprouts that will occur when the tap root is severed too shallow.

Keeping desirable vegetation healthy and thick will help keep invaders out. Prevent the establishment of new infestations by minimizing disturbance and seed dispersal.

If you have questions, or need more information, contact Archuleta County Weed and Pest Control at 264-6773 or call the CSU Extension Office at 264-5931.

Source: Colorado Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation Services Division and Priority weeds of Western Colorado.


Sept. 1 — 6:30 p.m., Shady Pine 4-H Club meeting.

Sept. 2 — 2 p.m., Colorado Mountaineers 4-H Club meeting.

Sept. 6 — 5 p.m., Conservation District annual meeting.

Sept. 6 — 6:30 p.m., 4-H Colorado Kids Club meeting.

Sept. 8 —?Noon, Mountain View Homemakers.

Sept. 9 — 2 p.m., 4-H Wolf Creek Wonders Club meeting.

Sept. 10 — Noon, Lower Blanco Property Owners meeting.

Sept. 10 — 6 p.m., Holiday Acres Property Owners meeting.

Check out our webpage at for calendar events and information.

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