PlantFiles: Creeping Spurge, Donkey Tail, Myrtle Spurge Euphorbia myrsinites
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Hardiness: USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F) USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F) USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F) USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F) USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F) USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F) USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
Sun Exposure: Full Sun
Danger: All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Bloom Color: Bright Yellow
Bloom Time: Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer
Foliage: Grown for foliage Evergreen Blue-Green
Other details: Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping May be a noxious weed or invasive
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) 7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: From seed; sow indoors before last frost
Seed Collecting: Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
On Dec 21, 2012, JoJo70 from Bethel Acres, OK wrote:
I use this plant extensively in my own sandy soil by a lake in central Oklahoma. I also planted it in a raised planter on the highway where we have a sign for the lake. We have to carry water to the planter and because of that it is ideal as it survives our dry hot heat. I have a large rock, some day lillies and the spurge in the top layer of the 4 by 8 planter. The bluegreen color reminds me of the color I wish our lake was but since this is Oklahoma, that's not happening. The center does seem to die back every year and I simply break off a few pieces on the edge and stick them in the ground where needed and they fill in the empty space in no time. I usually don't wear gloves and have never had any dermatitis from the plant. I am allergic to poison ivy so I do not have a strong immune system to plant life. I will tell my grandchildren to be careful around it from now on since I read all the horrible results some people are having.
On Oct 23, 2012, lkbowman from Crystal Lake, IL wrote:
Please be WARNED!! The toxins are so real. I had this plant growing along the edge of my pond and trimmed it. My 30, 13+ year old fish were all dead this morning. It only took 12 hours to kill every one of them!! I had no idea this could happen. That plant has been growing there for years but of course this year it was just bigger. Please DO NOT USE THIS PLANT. So sad and heartbroken!!
On Jun 30, 2012, SnookieJ from Bend, OR (Zone 5b) wrote:
I have quite a bit of this growing in my flower beds. On the positive note, it does grow anywhere...I have a lot of terrible dry soil under a Juniper tree and its great there. The bad part is its horrific if you get the sap on you. I knew the risks and still trimmed it back yesterday, paying special attention to not getting sap on me. I came in the house afterwards, and washed up very very good, on my arms and hands. About 2 hours later, my face felt on fire. I neglected to recall I had touched my face while working outside and now I feel like I have a bad sunburn. Hurts to touch. Woke up this morning and my face is really swollen in areas. Learned my lesson the hard way. Not sure if I should get rid of it completely..because it was at my own hand that I let it get to me. So ....just a warning for you out there wanting one of these. Do not have if you have small kids. Its a toxic beauty.
Here in Southern Ontario, Canada, I've come to expect this plant to be somewhat invasive, seeding itself easily, but for years have tolerated a few plants for their looks. Yesterday I pinched back the stems with bare hands on one plant with no problems. Today I did the same on another plant and even tho I washed the sap off my hands with soap and water as plain water didn't budge the gummy stuff, I must have gotten some in my eye. My eye has been burning for a couple hours now and my nose is running and also burning. I've rinsed my eye with cold water and used antihistamine drops with little relief. I hope I don't have to get further medical treatment. When this is over, the plants are all going to be pulled up and put in the garbage. This is no fun!
On Jun 2, 2011, Sabrina1978 from Gibsonburg, OH wrote:
When I first got this plant I loved it. I now know it's horrible. Spreads everywhere, gives me an itchy unsightly rash, and looks horrible after seeding. Don't do it. EVER. Hard to get rid of because it can be so prolific. Although seeds are heavy, the plant pops them in the air on breezy days and they go flying!!! First plant I really hate, and I grow a lot of things people generally don't like....!
On Mar 20, 2011, mudhazerustsalt from Salt Lake City, UT wrote:
This plant is awful. Do not be tantalized by it's ease of growth and interesting look.
First, the infestation. Here in Utah, it takes over entire slopes and kills other plants. Last year I pulled enough to fill 30 lawn bags, turning my steep backyard into a naked pile of dirt. Finally this spring I see just a few natives starting to reclaim the ground they lost. I don't know anyone here who has easily controlled this plant in their yard.
Second, the sap. Even in states where it's easier to control, I have heard of very few gardeners who enjoy the rash. I had to go home sick from work once because the sap got on my hands and then somehow my face while I was weeding. If it gets in your eye, the infection can be critical.
My department of ag gave me some control pointers. You can pull them (get at least 4" of root on mature plants) or use herbicide. Round-up worked very well for me. Either way, you have to vigilantly destroy new sprouts for a few years.The plant bursts its seeds each summer, spreading them as far as 14 feet around the parent.
On Aug 9, 2010, pirl from (Arlene) Southold, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:
Because of the many warnings about the sap I did wear gloves and had the trash bag at my side. I disposed of the cut back plant but some sap obviously must have fallen on other nearby plants I was trimming.
My eye is inflamed, my cheek is hot and it does extend to my ear and my lips. Clearly with the heat of the day and via sweating the tiny portion of sap has caused these problems.
On May 30, 2010, MachTurtle from Denver, CO wrote:
Absolutely **erradicate** this weed but think twice about doing it by hand. I'm going to use pesticide.
While trying to remove this noxious weed I must have gotten a small amount of sap on my forehead which sweat brought down to my eye.This is probably the 3rd most pain I have ever felt.
I had taken several precautions as I knew the plant's sap was quite venomous. Head covering, gloves, eyewear, etc.
I am glad I did not get more and prolonged exposure as my eyelid is on fire and to a lesser amount my outer eye. After an eyewash and drops the pain is really only minimally better. My cornea seems fine. I am not really swelling although my nose did begin to run a bit.
I will have to head into ER if this is going to persist.
We have a lot of this. IAs I understand from the neighbor, it was planted to save the back hill from erosion by the previous owner. It is a beautiful plant but treat it extreme care and do not allow it to grow. I can't imagine what would happen with a child, someone of lesser health or even more extreme exposure to me with this dangerous plant.
THIS PLANT IS A LIST-A NOXIOUS INVASIVE WEED IN COLORADO AND IS STATE MANDATED FOR ERADICATION. IT IS ILLEAGAL TO SELL OR CULTIVATE THIS PLANT IN THE STATE OF COLORADO. HAVING THIS PLANT ON YOUR PROPERTY CAN POTENTIALLY LEAD TO FINES EXCEEDING 1000$. REGARDLESS OF WHICH STATE YOU LIVE IN I HIGHLY SUGGEST THAT NO ONE OBTAIN THIS PLANT, AND WHENEVER POSSIBLE IT SHOULD BE REMOVED AND BAGGED.
I bought a small plant on Saturday and dropped it home before continuing my shopping. I know I touched the plant, although there wasn't any sap leaking from it. During my shopping, my left cheek started to itch and I later broke out into a small rash on that side. it seems I may have been fortunate to get away with so little!
I'm still new at growing things and I like to buy different plants to experiment with (ie, see if they can survive ME) so I'm going to see if the nursery will exchange this for something else.
Thanks for the info from other posters, very helpful.
On Apr 21, 2009, jeff0452 from Rio Rancho, NM wrote:
I was given a couple of these in the fall of last year by a friend, who described them as a self-seeding foliage plant. I wasn't sure if they would establish themselves enough to make it through the winter, since I was planting them so late. I was pleased to see this spring that they not only started growing, but even had small yellow flowers, which developed little orange centers! (I hadn't looked at all the photos on this site yet, so I wasn't expecting flowers.) The shape of the leaves does add interest to the garden. When I was planting them, I did handle the outer surfaces of the plants, but no sap since nothing broke. No allergic reactions so far, but as far as I can remember, my friend and I have not come in contact with the sap yet.
On Oct 9, 2008, jenmomof3 from Bellingham, WA wrote:
WARNING: do not plant this plant and remove all from your yard. My kids were playing outside in our maturely landscaped yard. Playing make believe they picked this plant and used it for play. The next morning my son woke up, his eyes swollen almost shut, face swollen and completely red with exception to creases around his nose, large blisters on his chin, forehead and cheeks. We thought he was having an allergic reaction to a plant....it really was a severe contact dermatitis. Please see above posting for how to remove it and please do not plant it!! It is listed as a noxious weed.
On Aug 16, 2008, Bellafleur from Holland, MA (Zone 5a) wrote:
ok, i can understand how people can say that this plant is invasive but here in my yard in Holland MA i would not consider it invasive. Maybe because the majority of the land here is hard soil , clay soil with sand. i dont know. It has taken over 8 years for this plant to produce a few small colonies of maybe 5-6 plants each. They are easy to dig up and remove. i have had that milky substance on my hands and even went without washing my hands for a few hours. I did not know about the threat it has. But im starting to wonder if people are just allergic to it and im not? ive handled this plant many times bare handed and had no problem. watch...now that i said it.... NOOO...not gonna go there. I do love the look of this plant. it can easily be dead headed, though, i have never done it. I welcome its odd foliage in my gardens. If its legal in your state, ive got some to trade. melissa
On Jul 9, 2008, suewylan from North Fork, CA (Zone 7b) wrote:
I love this plant a lot less today.
It was always the first to bloom (in Feb!) and stayed very attractive and interesting all year round...BUT in the last 24 hours I had to go to emergency hospital TWICE, after clipping the flowers back.
After washing my hands of the sticky sap, I must have rubbed my eye and it immediately started to sting and burn and water profusely. By the afternoon I was in excrutiating pain In the emergency room, they numbed my eye and irrigated it, then sent me home with antibiotic drops.
The pain became worse after 8 hours, spreading to my other eye, nose and sinuses and, blinded, I was driven again to the hospital for pain relief, numbing drops and finally vicodin. They said my corneas were damaged and sent me to an opthamologist. He said the plant has corrosive chemicals in it and had burned my eyes and eyelids. My face where the first tears came down is all burned and peeling.
No wonder the deer don't eat it. I don't know if I'll get rid of this plant, but I'll definately wear a HAZ MAT suit when trimming it!
On Oct 26, 2007, JuanaWonder from Indianapolis, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:
I purchased this plant at a local garden center last spring. It did not have an identification tag. I have enjoyed it immensely. BUT, yesterday I picked off a few stems. A milky substance dripped on my hands. I immediately washed my hands thoroughly! Later in the day I felt like I have a jalapeño burn on my lips. Several hours later my whole face was on fire! Today I look like and feel like I have been burnt. I know I did not rub this stuff on all over my face. This stuff is treacherous. It took me a few hours to research this plant. I think I will be more careful in my new plant choice in the future. I plan on telling the local garden center what I found. This is a great web site. ...glad I found it.
On May 12, 2007, PhilsFlowers from Ocean Park, Surrey, BC (Zone 6b) wrote:
A friend gave me a small E. myrsinites to plant in an area under a porch roof in complete shade to cover a low, poorly constructed concrete wall. It did this job amazingly well in spite of the fact it is not mat-forming. It flowers and probably does produce seeds but I have never seen one. We get gale-force winds here in the coastal area of southern B.C. so I frequently have to untangle its branches. I never knew that this was harmful to skin because I never suffered any ill-effects. If the wind did break or damage a stem, I just cut it back. I love the colour and the unusualness of this plant and was sorry to learn it was such a 'weed' elsewhere.
On Apr 28, 2007, RockabillyKitty from Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:
Myrtle Spurge is not native to Colorado, but was brought here for ornamental planting.
According to the Adams County Parks Department, Myrtle Spurge is growing aggressively across Colorado. However, it is ILLEGAL to have it, so if it is in your yard, you are REQUIRED BY LAW to remove it.
To get rid of it you should dig it up and put in a plastic bag to avoid spreading seed and put it the trash. You can also kill Myrtle Spurge by spraying with 2, 4 – D. You should wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants while working around the weed.
You should not cut Myrtle Spurge with a lawnmower because it spreads the seeds."
On Jul 6, 2006, marlow from Salt Lake City, UT wrote:
Please, please, do not plant this horrible invasive weed in Utah. This stuff is ruining the foothills along the Wasatch Front. It takes over entire hillsides choking out our wonderful native foliage. If you have it in your yard, rip it out today. It will soon be too late to stop this environmental disaster.
On May 21, 2004, jennifergo from Fort Collins, CO wrote:
I am a Weed Specialist in Colorado and this plant is a disaster. It is now one of the top proiroties on the State of Colorado Noxious Weed List for eradication. It is highly toxic, invasive, and illegal. Please don't market this plant to folks in the western US!
I have grown this plant in the southern interior of BC (zone 4) on the sunny south side of my house. It grows extremely fast and requires little or no upkeep. It is a great ground cover for hot/dry locations.
On Apr 4, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:
We have it growing in partial shade in a very dry bed full of Maple roots and find it very well behaved.
In fact anything that can survive here would be welcome to be invasive.
After 3 years it has only spread about 1 foot w/o dead heading.
Previous comments have noted the toxcity. Note that we all may have different sensitivities. BE CAREFUL WITH THIS PLANT. I had a severe reaction after cutting some of the plants. I washed my hands immediately afterwards but then used a paper towel to dry my hands. Then I used the same towel to wipe the sweat from my face and forehead. My first symptoms (in about two hours) were burning lips and tongue (like I'd eaten a spicy meal). Within four hours the underside of my nose was painful to the touch. By the next morning my face was numb and swollen. Within the next day these facial areas began peeling like I had a bad sunburn. Reports in Colorado actually indicate that school kids have learned that they can get out of school by rubbing some of the plant's latex material on their face! Some have ended up in emergency rooms and/or burn units.
This is a beautiful plant. However, the milky sap causes quite a nasty dermatitis. I came in contact with some this afternoon and must have touched my face because I am developing painful blisters. This has been reported on other web sites. Also, the plant is toxic if ingested. So wear gloves if handling this plant and if you get any sap on your hands, wash them immediately.
I have seen this plant be extremely invasive. It completely overtook my neighbors garden and in such large numbers the plant is not very attractive. If you have the plant, work hard to contain it so this doesn't happen to you.
On Sep 11, 2001, Joy from Kalama, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:
Also called Donkey tail spurge,Creeping spurge.
Be very careful of the milky white sap that oozes out of a cut Euphorbia stem, as it is poisonous.
Protect open wounds and eyes.
Skin irritation minor or lasting only for a few minutes. Redness, swelling, blisters after some delay following contact with skin. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea when ingested.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
, (2 reports) Highfill, Arkansas Ferndale, California Hesperia, California Modesto, California North Fork, California Perris, California Sacramento, California San Francisco, California San Jose, California San Leandro, California Applewood, Colorado Woodland Park, Colorado Azalea Park, Florida Hampshire, Illinois Machesney Park, Illinois Northfield, Illinois West Chicago, Illinois Delhi, Iowa Franklin, Kentucky Westminster, Maryland Holland, Massachusetts Belleville, Michigan Dearborn Heights, Michigan Ludington, Michigan Pinconning, Michigan Utica, Michigan La Luz, New Mexico Los Alamos, New Mexico Rio Rancho, New Mexico Roswell, New Mexico Southold, New York Elizabeth City, North Carolina Fruit Hill, Ohio Gibsonburg, Ohio Bethel Acres, Oklahoma Muskogee, Oklahoma Bend, Oregon Ashley, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Arlington, Texas Magna, Utah Salt Lake City, Utah (2 reports) West Valley City, Utah Bellingham, Washington Birch Bay, Washington Colbert, Washington Edmonds, Washington Kalama, Washington Mountlake Terrace, Washington Seattle, Washington Walla Walla, Washington White Center, Washington