Beware of myrtle spurge when xeriscaping

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By Ethan Proud  | PREVIEW Columnist

Xeriscaping is a popular option for a beautiful water-wise landscape in drought-stricken Colorado. The combination of rocks and plants can mimic our native plant communities in a beautiful way, but be aware of what you are planting. 

Many noxious weeds are drought-hardy, which allows them to thrive in their invaded ranges. Plants like myrtle spurge are hailed as xeriscape champions, while, in reality, they are nasty invaders that will escape ornamentation and degrade our native habitats on top of causing you physical harm. 

That’s right, this plant can hurt you. Myrtle spurge contains a caustic latex sap that is capable of burning your skin. You can compound the damage by touching your face after handling this plant and spreading the blisters to more sensitive regions such as the eyes, nose or lips.

Myrtle spurge is currently an A list species in Colorado, meaning that its eradication is required by law. It is illegal to buy, sell or cultivate myrtle spurge. In New Mexico, it is listed as a Watch List species, where more information is needed before it is either dropped from the list or elevated to a higher classification. Myrtle spurge is available for sale in New Mexico, so when shopping for garden plants out of state, it is important to know which plants are designated as noxious here in Colorado. 

Noxious weeds have a long history of being introduced as an ornamental before escaping and wreaking havoc. Oxeye daisy, yellow toadflax and dame’s rocket are just a few others that join the ranks of myrtle spurge. When planning your garden, remember that you can be a part of the solution or a part of the problem. These species do not belong in our natural areas and are not suitable forage for wildlife, nectar sources for pollinators and crowd out our native plant species.

Archuleta County Weed and Pest is your local resource for managing noxious weed populations and controlling other pests.

Archuleta County Fair

The Archuleta County Fair is set for Aug. 4-7. 

Have you ever wanted to enter the Archuleta County Fair? Are you a woodworker, potter, jeweler, photographer, painter or knitter? Or, maybe you grow vegetables or bake cookies? Would you like to showcase your creations? These are just some of the many divisions that you can enter in Open Class. 

Go to https://www.archuletacountyfair.com and look up the 2022 Fair Book for the rules. Judging will be Aug. 3. 

If you have further questions, please email archuletacountyfair@gmail.com. 

You could earn a Grand Champion ribbon at the Archuleta County Fair.

Volunteers needed

Archuleta County 4-H needs volunteers. We are looking for a short-term commitment for superintendents at the county fair. 

Please contact our office at (970) 264-5931 or contact 4-H Coordinator Becky Jacobson at rjacobson@archuletacounty.org.

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered every other month (February, April, June, August, October and December) from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid, and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at (970) 264-5931 to register.

Visit online

Visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or like us on Facebook and get more information: https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY and https://www.facebook.com/ArchuletaCounty4H.