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Denver Parks and Recreation Urges Denver Residents to “Purge the Spurge” and Receive Free Native Plants

With the arrival of the spring season and the renewal of gardens and flower beds, Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) is notifying residents to aggressively remove the noxious weed, myrtle spurge, that may look like an ornamental plant but can cause harm to people and natural areas.

To help combat myrtle spurge, DPR will continue its “Purge the Spurge educational outreach program for residents.  Volunteers and staff are canvassing Denver’s neighborhoods looking for myrtle spurge in gardens, yards and rights-of-ways and distributing informative hangtags that encourage residents to remove it from their property.

DPR will host its 7th Annual Purge the Spurge Plant Exchange on Saturday, May 20 from 9 a.m. - noon at CSU Extension’s Denver Master Gardner Spring Plant Sale at Harvard Gulch Park, 888 E. Iliff Ave., 80210.  Denver residents can bring in bags of myrtle spurge or a hangtag to receive FREE native plants for replacement. 

Denver Master Gardeners have been working alongside DPR staff in the City Park Greenhouse, growing a unique variety of heirloom and modern tomatoes, sweet and hot chili peppers, select vegetables and herbs, and annual and perennial flowers that will be available at the plant sale on Saturday, May 20 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday, May 21 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Myrtle spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) is a priority “List A” noxious weed that is required by the Colorado Noxious Weed Act (C.R.S. 35-5.5-101-119) to be eradicated wherever found in the state. Hand-pulling and digging are effective methods used to control this plant in addition to herbicide applications. Myrtle spurge contains a toxic, milky sap which can cause severe skin irritations, including blistering. This plant is poisonous if ingested; causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Wearing gloves, long sleeves, shoes, and eye protection is highly recommended when in contact with myrtle spurge, as all plant parts are considered poisonous.

This nasty weed, also known as donkey tail spurge or creeping spurge, is a low growing perennial with trailing fleshy stems and spreads rapidly to surrounding areas.  It can easily invade natural areas to displace native vegetation and reduce forage for wildlife. The leaves are fleshy, blue-green and its flowers are bright yellow-green petal-like bracts that appear from March to May. Unfortunately, it is commonly found in the Denver metro area and has become a serious problem in the foothills and mountain ecosystems. Landowners who choose not to remove myrtle spurge from their properties could receive a citation.

For more information, citizens are urged to contact DPR Natural Resources Operations at 720-913-0659, visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/agconservation/myrtle-spurge or check out Purge Your Spurge on Facebook.