Eagle County Weed of the Week: Myrtle Spurge
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado “Introduced as a “waterwise” rock garden plant, Myrtle Spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) has made the “A” List as one of Colorado’s noxious weeds. List A plants are designated by the State for eradication on both public and private property due to their highly aggressive nature. It can be found in many gardens throughout Eagle County.
– A creeping, low growing perennial reaching 4-to-6-inches tall with an 18-inch spread.
– Fleshy, trailing blue-green succulent-like leaves.
– Bright yellow flower-like bracts in early spring.
– Broken stems exude a toxic, milky latex that can cause burns and irritation to the skin and eyes.
– All parts of this plant are considered poisonous.
– To reproduce, Myrtle Spurge projects its seeds up to 15-feet away from the plant.
– Forms dense colonies, driving out native species and reducing wildlife forage.
– Small infestations can be pulled or hand dug, but must be repeated over several years.
– Be sure to wear gloves and appropriate clothing since the sap can burn and irritate the skin and eyes.
– It is important to eliminate the seed bank so remove flowers and seed heads promptly and remove new seedlings as they emerge.
– For larger infestations, use an appropriate herbicide. Contact the Eagle County Weed and Pest Department or a licensed applicator for herbicide recommendations.
– Maintaining healthy native plant communities is the best way to prevent the establishment of any weed. Noxious weeds quickly invade disturbed areas, making revegetation critical to controlling this plant as well as other noxious weed species.
– Waterwise native groundcovers include Sulfur Flower (Eriogonum umbellatum), Kinnickinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and Grape Holly (Mahonia repens).
– There are numerous creeping Sedums including ‘Blue Spruce,’ ‘Dragon’s Blood,’ and ‘Utah-Goldmoss.’
– Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) is a less aggressive, commercially available Euphorbia with similar early blooming yellow bracts.
– Myrtle Spurge is still commercially available in other states where it is not as aggressive as it is here in Colorado. Boulder and the foothills region have a significant problem with this escaped garden perennial.
For more information on this plants and the Weed Management Programs in Eagle County visit http://www.eaglecounty.us/weed or http://www.vailgov.com/weeds. Or call the Eagle County Weed and Pest Department, 970-328-3540, the Town of Vail Department of Public Works 970-479-2158, or the Eagle County Extension Office 970-328-8630.