The Dangers of Myrtle Spurge

Myrtle Spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites), often admired for its unique appearance and drought resistance, is an invasive and toxic plant that poses significant risks to humans, pets, and native ecosystems. Despite its appealing features, the consequences of cultivating Myrtle Spurge can be severe, affecting the health of individuals and the integrity of the Utah flora.


Understanding Myrtle Spurge

Myrtle Spurge is a perennial weed native to Southeastern Europe and Asia Minor but it has found its way into various parts of the United States, including Utah. Characterized by its sprawling growth, succulent-like leaves, and vibrant yellow flowers, this plant might initially seem like a charming addition to gardens. However, its beauty is deceiving. 


The Poisonous Nature of the Plant

Designated as a poisonous weed in many states, Myrtle Spurge has an aggressive growth pattern that allows it to outcompete native plants, leading to reduced biodiversity in affected areas. Its ability to thrive in sparse conditions means it can quickly dominate extensive areas, disrupting local plant communities and the wildlife dependent on those plants.


Health Hazards Posed by Myrtle Spurge

  • Skin Irritation: The plant produces a milky latex that can cause severe skin inflamation, characterized by redness, swelling, and blistering upon contact. Gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts are at particular risk when handling the plant without proper protection.
  • Eye Exposure: Perhaps the most alarming is the potential for blindness if the latex comes into contact with the eyes, a serious risk during the removal or accidental disturbance of the plant.
  • Ingestion Risks: Both humans and animals can suffer from poisoning if they ingest any part of the plant. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases, systemic reactions that could be life-threatening.


Why It Continues to Spread

Surprisingly, despite these risks, Myrtle Spurge continues to be planted in some gardens. This might stem from a lack of awareness about its invasive and toxic nature or from its popularity in drought-prone areas where hardy, low-maintenance plants are favored. Education and awareness campaigns are crucial in combating the spread of Myrtle Spurge.


Management and Removal

Effective management of Myrtle Spurge involves:

  • Regular Monitoring: Regular checks in gardens and natural areas to identify and remove any emerging plants before they spread.
  • Safe Removal Practices: Wearing gloves, long sleeves, and protective eyewear during removal to prevent contact with the toxic latex.
  • Disposal: Ensuring that removed plants are disposed of in a way that prevents their spread, such as bagging them tightly before trash disposal, rather than composting.

For the most effective eradication and removal of Myrtle Spurge you can use certain herbicides or call Harmon and Sons who will take care of the removal and disposal of Myrtle Spurge invading your yard.