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Get the Urge, Remove the Spurge!

By Misra Cohen-MacGill and Anna Meiners
New Vista High School, Community Adventure Program, Boulder, Colorado

You know that funky, leafy green plant that has suddenly popped up in your yard uninvited? So do an increasing number of people in the Boulder community. Once introduced as a drought resistant plant to brighten gardens, the attractive yellow flower now brings a sigh of dread to native landscapes in Boulder County.

Myrtle Spurge, also known as Creeping Spurge or Donkey Tail, was originally brought over from Eurasia as an ornamental, but it quickly got out of hand. Having no natural diseases or predators in this ecosystem, it flourished and jumped fences and roads and into areas of Boulder County Open Space. Today, this noxious weed can be found all over town: in people’s yards, next to highways, and even along trails. It is choking out the native plants in the area and could eventually lead to their extinction if it is not dealt with properly.

Over three thousand different species of invasive plants can be found in Colorado today. Because it has created such a threat to our natural ecosystem, Myrtle Spurge has been put on the A list for noxious weeds. This means it is illegal to buy, sell, or have it in possession, and the city can fine people for having it in their yards. During the week of May 9th, 2005 the Community Adventure Program at New Vista High School set out on a mission to help educate homeowners in the New Vista High School neighborhood and to help remove the plant from Boulder Mountain Parks. When the project was complete, CAP students were able to remove over 2,250 pounds of Myrtle Spurge from the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks and helped save the city approximately $2,760.00 in removal and education costs.

So what can you do to help with this issue? 1. Remove it! If you notice that you or someone you know has Myrtle Spurge growing in their yard you can dig it up (see below); 2. Educate others: Informing your friends and neighbors about Myrtle Spurge can be a huge help. These two small actions can make an enormous difference in the ongoing battle against noxious weeds.

WARNING: The sap of this plant is harmful and can cause blisters if it comes in contact with your skin. Wearing gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection is a simple way to avoid this painful experience. The most sustainable way to remove Myrtle Spurge is to dig it up with a shovel at least 2 inches below the surface of the ground and throw it into your trashcan.

  • To find more information about Myrtle Spurge, please visit: www.ci.boulder.co.us/openspace/nature/weeds.htm#myrtle.
  • To find more information about the Community Adventure Program at New Vista High School, please visit: www.communityadventure.org.
  • Categories: Action Projects

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