- Escaped evergreen garden perennial that grows 10-15 cm tall
- Form low, spreading mounds
- Stems and leaves are blue-green in color
- Leaves are sharp, succulent, alternate, and spiral around the stem
- Inconspicuous flowers are surrounded by small, yellowish flower-like bracts
- Each flower produces a bluish-green seed pod containing three brown seeds
- All parts of the plant contain a toxic, milky white sap
- Prefers full sun and dry, well drained, disturbed soils
Blue-green leaves and stems of myrtle spurge.
Myrtle spurge flowering.
Large patch of myrtle spurge flowering.
Flowers, seed pods, stems, and leaves of myrtle spurge.
Milky sap of myrtle spurge.
Flowers and seed pods of myrtle spurge.
Blue-green seed pods of myrtle spurge.
Patch of myrtle spurge in seed.
Myrtle spurge seeds.
Myrtle spurge seedling.
Myrtle spurge seedling.
Introduction and spread
- Native to southern Europe, central Asia, and the Mediterranean
- Likely introduced to North America as a garden ornamental
- Drought tolerant, so it is popular in rock gardens
- Becomes highly invasive when it escapes cultivation
- Spreads mainly by seed, but also produces new plants through root fragments
- Seeds are released in bursts, dispersing up to ~5 m away
- Seeds can remain viable in soils for up to 8 years
Consequences of invasion
- Invades open areas (e.g., fields, rangelands, gardens) and disturbed areas (e.g., roadsides, waste places)
- Grows rapidly and aggressively
- Releases chemicals that inhibits the growth of native plants
- Reduces forage for wildlife
- Toxic to humans, wildlife, and livestock when consumed
- Toxic sap can cause blindness and skin irritation such as redness, swelling, and blisters
Status in the CKISS region
- Myrtle spurge is currently classified as Eradicate on the CKISS Annual Priority List.
Integrated pest management options
- Do not plant this species. Learn about Grow Me Instead and PlantWise to grow non-invasive alternatives instead.
- Maintain crops and natural areas to support a competitive, non-invasive plant community.
- Immediately revegetate bare, disturbed soils with a non-invasive seed mix to reduce invasion.
- Do not move contaminated soils to a new area.
- Clean your clothing, boots, and gear from soils and plant materials before entering/leaving an area.
- Wear protective clothing and eyewear when handling this species.
- Hand-pull or dig small patches before seed set, removing as much of the roots as possible. Requires repeated treatments, usually over multiple years.
- Mowing can be effective before seed set, but requires repeated treatments.
- Bag and dispose of plant materials properly at a landfill for burial.
- Certain herbicides have demonstrated effective control. Contact professional contractors for guidance.
- Grazing large infestations using sheep/goats can reduce seed production.
- Prescribed burns and composting are NOT recommended.
- There are currently no known biocontrol agents for this species in B.C.