Euphorbia myrsinites

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Euphorbia myrsinites
Euphorbia myrsinites.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia
Species: E. myrsinites
Binomial name
Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia myrsinites, the myrtle spurge,[1] blue spurge,[1] or broad-leaved glaucous-spurge,[2] is a succulent species of the spurge (family Euphorbiaceae).


The plant is native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, from Italy east through the Balkans to Crimea and Turkey.[3][1]


The specific epithet myrsinites is derived from the Greek word μυρσινίτης (myrsinites), which was used in Dioscorides's De Materia Medica to describe its similarity to μυρσίνη (myrsine), aka myrtle (Myrtus communis). It often mistakenly refers to another genus Myrsine, whose name is also derived from the Greek name of myrtle.[4][5]


Myrtle spurge is an evergreen perennial. It has sprawling stems growing to 20–40 cm long. The leaves are spirally arranged, fleshy, pale glaucous bluish-green, 1–2 cm long. The flowers are inconspicuous, but surrounded by bright sulphur-yellow bracts (tinged red in the cultivar 'Washfield'); they are produced during the spring.[6]

Plants spread primarily by seed and are capable of projecting seed up to 15 feet.[7]


The plant's milky sap can cause significant skin and eye irritation in humans. Goggles, gloves and protective gear is often used when removing plants. Children are more susceptible than adults to symptoms from myrtle spurge, suggesting play areas not in proximity to the species. Pets can have similar reactions to myrtle spurge sap exposure.

The species can be strongly allelopathic, preventing other plants from growing nearby.


Euphorbia myrsinites is cultivated as an ornamental plant for its distinctive silver-gray foliage, and is used in garden borders, 'modernist' mass plantings, and as a potted plants. It is planted in drought tolerant gardens in California and other dry climates.

In the United Kingdom, the cultivated plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[8]

Noxious weed[edit]

Euphorbia myrsinites is identified as a noxious weed and/or invasive species in some regions. Its cultivation is illegal in the U.S. state of Colorado, where it is classified myrtle spurge as a Class A noxious weed, and landowners are legally required to eradicate it.[9]

Myrtle spurge is also classified as a noxious weed in the U.S. state of Oregon, subject to quarantine.[10]

It was listed as a noxious weed in Salt Lake County, Utah in 2007, and since has been illegal for sale within the county.[11] Salt Lake County landowners and land managers are legally responsible to contain, control, or eradicate the species on their property. The Utah Native Plant Society has also formally recommended it be listed as a Utah state noxious weed.


Physical control
Small infestations can be controlled through multiple years of digging up at least 4” of the root. Myrtle spurge is best controlled in the spring when the soil is moist and prior to seed production. Make sure to dispose of all the plant parts in the garbage instead of composting.[12]
Chemical control
Myrtle spurge can be effectively controlled with products containing 2, 4-D and dicamba (i.e. Weed B Gon) applied in late fall.[13]
Biological control
There are currently no known bio-controls, though the leafy spurge flea beetle (Aphthona), has had a high survival rate on myrtle spurge in laboratory studies.[14]


  1. ^ a b c "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". 
  2. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  3. ^ Flora Europaea: Euphorbia myrsinites
  4. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). The Names of Plants (4th ed.). United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-511-47376-0. 
  5. ^ Dioscorides, Pedanius (2000). De Materia Medica. South Africa: IBIDIS Press cc. p. 722. ISBN 0-620-23435-0. 
  6. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. ISBN 0-333-47494-5
  7. ^ "Myrtle Spurge Fact Sheet" (PDF). Salt Lake County Weed Control Program. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Euphorbia myrsinites AGM". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Myrtle Spurge
  10. ^ Oregon State-listed Noxious Weeds
  11. ^ Salt Lake County Weeds
  12. ^ "Myrtle Spurge Fact Sheet" (PDF). Salt Lake County Weed Control Program. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "Myrtle Spurge Fact Sheet" (PDF). Salt Lake County Weed Control Program. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Myrtle Spurge". ODA Plant Programs, Noxious Weed Control. 

External links[edit]