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July 2010
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Euphorbia myrsinites (Myrtle Spurge)

Euphorbia myrsinites is also known as Creeping Spurge or “donkey tail”. It belongs to Dicot group and is an herbaceous biennial and a perennial plant. It spreads to a height of up to 15cm and spreads up to 30cm. The best time to plant seeds is March to May. Its sprawling stems can grow up to 20-40cm long.
It resembles a cluster of elongated silvery-green fir cones and green scale-like leaves and is fleshy and pale bluish-green in color. The leaves overlap along the prostrate stems. They are spirally arranged and can grow up to 1-2 cm long. They have yellow euphorbia flowers with typical flat heads at the ends. The plant is used as a decorative plant. It is valued in xeriscaping in dry areas. It can be grown in rock gardens on in hollow topped walls. They are produced during the spring. It can be used for front of borders, banks or a gravel garden. It is used also as a winter patio plant. It has been given Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society. It is drought tolerant but grows in soils with good water drainage or where solid does not wet in winter.
It grows easily and propagates itself in a garden setting. It does display invasiveness and hence a concern to ecologists and conservation biologists. It is termed ‘noxious weed” in many states like Washington, Oregon and Colorado. Its invasiveness is limited in western USA. It is a native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor from Italy and Turkey.
The plant is highly toxic. Its sap causes blister, redness, puffiness and burning sensation. In its side effects, the milky sap can cause skin and eye irritations. The foliage declines usually in cold winter climates and in wind, otherwise evergreen. Short lived in warm winter climates.

Growing Conditions of Euphorbia Myrsinites

• Sow the seeds in March to May.
• Seeds can be collected by capturing ripening seed from the flowers and bag them.
• Wear gloves to protect hands while handling seeds.
• Clean the seeds properly and store and sow
• It needs spacing of 9-12 in. (22-30 cm)
• Soil pH requirements are 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic), 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) and 7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
• Sow indoors before last frost from seed.
• Place the seeds with the spacing and water them.
• Once grown divide the plants in around March-April.

Care of Euphorbia Myrsinites

• Needs exposure to full sun.
• Needs Well- drained soil system.
• Needs light, Acidic, Chalky-alkaline and moist soil for growth.
• Best time to sow seeds is March to May.
• Best time to divide plants is March to April.
• It is tolerant to rocky and sandy soils too.
• It self sows freely and hence to avoid spent flowers to avoid self seeding and getting invasive.
• Care is required with the sap of the plant as its highly toxic and causes skin and eye irritations.

Image of this plant at this link.

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