I have introduced a toxic plant, how can I safely remove it?

picture of Myrtle Spurge
Photo credit: Ask an Expert
Q:

My husband and I moved to Halfway, OR in November. My friend tells me that a plant we have on our septic mound is dangerous to keep around. She says this succulent is very dangerous if you get it in your eyes. I'm wondering if you can tell me about this plant. If I need to get rid of it, what is the best way?

- Baker County, OR
A:

Based on your photo that looks to be myrtle spurge, a Euphorbia.

The profile for this plant is found on the Oregon Noxious Weeds website.

This profile suggests a biological control, " a leafy spurge flea beetle", but otherwise the chemical controls noted in the factsheet below might be more effective. It states that any control program must be long-term. Be sure to note the "cautions" so that other plants or animals are not damaged by chemical treatments.

The PNW Weed Management Handbook has a factsheet for managing a variety of spurge plants:

The City of Boulder has perhaps the best response "On your property, Myrtle Spurge is easily removed by hand. Caution: Wear gloves, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when pulling. The weed exudes a milky sap that can severely irritate skin and eyes and is toxic if ingested."..."Remove at least four inches of the root when pulling myrtle spurge. The weed has a taproot, so the more of this you can pull out, the more effective it will be at preventing re-growth." Remove plants prior to seed set. Finally a good factsheet.

Best of luck controlling this plant. It probably is well-suited to your site, but not a family friendly plant. 

Robin Maille
Family and Community Health Educator
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