Myrtle Spurge

Euphorbia myrsinites

Myrtle Spurge

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Other Common Names: creeping spurge, donkey tail spurge
Weed class: B
Year Listed: 2003
Native to: Eastern Europe and Western Asia
Is this Weed Toxic?:


Why Is It a Noxious Weed?

Myrtle spurge escapes cultivation and is aggressive, crowding out native species. It poses a danger to people because of its caustic, latex sap, which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea when ingested. The sap can cause blindness if it gets in people's eyes. Skin contact with sap causes redness, swelling and blisters.

How would I identify it?

General Description

Myrtle spurge is a perennial, herbaceous plant. Mature plants are 4 to 6 inches tall and spread up to 18 inches wide. Leaves, stems, and roots all exude a milky, caustic sap when broken.

Flower Description

Flowers are inconspicuous, yellow and are surrounded by a showy yellow-green bract.

Leaf description

Leaves are alternate, in close spirals, fleshy, and blue-green.

Stem description

Stems are low spreading, trailing and fleshy.

Fruit Seed Description

It has small seeds that can be projected from plant up to 15 feet. Seeds can survive in soil for around 8 years.

Where does it grow?

Myrtle spurge is an escaped ornamental that inhabits open areas such as fields, rangelands, gardens, disrupted areas, roadsides and waste places. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of myrtle spurge in Washington.

How Does it Reproduce?

Myrtle spurge reproduces by seed. Roots fragmented by cultivation can produce new plants.

How Do I Control It?

General Control Strategy

Intensive cultivation and the planting of competitive crops are useful methods for the control of myrtle spurge in fields. For heavy infestations on rangeland, the addition of chemicals, grazing sheep or goats is usually necessary to further diminish weed growth.

Mechanical Control

Small infestations can successfully be dug or pulled. In order to gain control over a population it must be pulled over multiple years. Pull plants early in the season to prior to seed formation. Use caution when pulling to not get any sap on your skin. If sap contacts skin make sure to wash that area.

Herbicide Control

Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.

For More Information

Stevens County NWCB Fact Sheet on myrtle spurge

Asotin County NWCB Fact Sheet on myrtle spurge

Lincoln County NWCB Fact Sheet on myrtle spurge

See our Written Findings for more information about myrtle spurge, Euphorbia myrsinites

Oregon noxious weed fact sheet on myrtle spurge, Euphorbia mysinites

Colorado Department of Agriculture myrtle spurge fact sheet

Myrtle spurge in the UW Herbarium image database

The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article: How a ‘waterwise’ ornamental plant has taken over Wasatch foothills information on myrtle spurge

Additional Photos