Euphorbia myrsinites - L.
Myrtle Spurge
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Euphorbia myrsinites L. (TSN 502543)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.133829
Element Code: PDEUP0Q2V0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Spurge Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Euphorbiales Euphorbiaceae Euphorbia
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Euphorbia myrsinites
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 14Feb1993
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (12Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Utah (SNA), Washington (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), Ontario (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
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NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CAexotic, COexotic, IDexotic, UTexotic, WAexotic, WYexotic
Canada BCexotic, ONexotic

Range Map
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Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Euphorbia myrsinites is an escaped ornamental that is scattered in several western states including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. It may also be established in California. Apparently it is having negative impacts in a small part of its current generalized range, however, its current range is rather small and appears to have the potential to expand. The most serious impacts appear to be in Washington and Colorado. In one county in Colorado, Euphorbia myrsinites is rapidly expanding into sensitive ecosystems, displacing native vegetation, and reducing forage for wildlife. Euphorbia myrsinites is reported to affect water availability to native plants in Colorado. In Washington, there is an escaped population of Euphorbia myrsinites that is difficult to control and there is concern that this species may continue to spread. More information is needed about the habitats that Euphorbia myrsinites invades and its impacts on biodiversity. It's reported habitats are dry rocky areas, a coastal area, a stream bank, and disturbed areas and waste places. More information is also needed about its reproductive characteristics. Euphorbia myrsinites is moderately difficult to control. Control can be accomplished with herbicide; hand-pulling or digging must be done very carefully to prevent contact with the toxic latex the plant exudes.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Low
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: High/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: High/Low
I-Rank Review Date: 10Dec2004
Evaluator: Tomaino, A.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to Turkey, Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Italy, and Greece (GRIN 2001).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Established outside cultivation in the U.S. (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: In San Diego County, California, escaped in a coastal area (Beauchamp 1986). In Kern County, California, a single plant was reported on a stream bank (Baldwin et al. 2004). In Utah, sometimes established in indigenous plant communities (Welsh et al. 2003). In Washington State, known from disturbed areas and waste places (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). In Colorado, rapidly expanding into sensitive ecosystems (Uhing and Spencer 2003).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites affects water availability to native plants in Colorado State (APRS Implementation Team 2001).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites is a low-growing perennial with fleshy trailing stems (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites is rapidly expanding into sensitive ecosystems, displacing native vegetation, and reducing forage for wildlife (Uhing and Spencer 2003).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No mention of disproportionate impacts on particular native species found in the literature; assumption is that any impacts are not significant.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Medium/Low significance
Comments: In Adams County, Colorado, Euphorbia myrsinites is rapidly expanding into sensitive ecosystems, displacing native vegetation, and reducing forage for wildlife (Uhing and Spencer 2003). It may occur in a coastal area of San Diego County, Colorado (Beauchamp 1986). Apparently, it is negatively impacting a community of conservation significance. However, apparently, it usually occurs in disturbed areas (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Low

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites is established in 9 counties in Washington, 10 counties in Oregon, and 9 counties in Idaho (Rice 2004). It known from 5 counties in Utah (Welsh et al. 2003). It is also known from Colorado (Uhing and Spencer 2003). In California, Euphorbia myrsinites is reported from two counties but has not yet been added to the Jepson Flora (Baldwin et al. 2004). Although Kartesz (1999) reports Euphorbia myrsinites from Wisconsin, currently it is excluded from the Wisconsin Flora as "an adventive last collected from a garden in 1971 that never reappeared in subsequent years" (Wisconsin State Herbarium 2004).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Medium/Low significance
Comments: In Adams County, Colorado, Euphorbia myrsinites is rapidly expanding into sensitive ecosystems, displacing native vegetation, and reducing forage for wildlife (Uhing and Spencer 2003). In Grant County, Washington, there is an escaped population of Euphorbia myrsinites that is difficult to control; there is concern that this species may continue to spread (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). In California, it is apparently currently not having negative impacts; it is known from two reports, one is a single plant on a stream bank (Baldwin et al. 2004)and one is "uncommon escape in coastal area" (Beauchamp 1986). In Utah, it is "sometimes established" (Welsh et al. 2003). Apparently it is having negative impacts in a small part of its current generalized range, however, more information is needed.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Low significance
Comments: Approximately 12% of units, inferred from TNC (2001), Kartesz (1999), Rice (2004), Baldwin et al. (2004), Welsh et al. 2003).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites inhabits dry rocky areas (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). In San Diego County, California, escaped in a coastal area (Beauchamp 1986). In Kern County, California, a single plant was reported on a stream bank (Baldwin et al. 2004). In Utah, sometimes established in indigenous plant communities (Welsh et al. 2003). In Washington State, known from disturbed areas and waste places (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). In Colorado, rapidly expanding into sensitive ecosystems (Uhing and Spencer 2003).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: High/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites is classified as a noxious weed in WA and CO and control efforts are underway in these states. However, Euphorbia myrsinites is still planted as an ornamental and can be purchased on the internet (Whitinger 2004). Euphorbia myrsinites also occurs in disturbed areas (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). Assumption is that this species' total range is not declining or remaining stable.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Inferred from USDA (1990), Kartesz (1999), Rice (2004), Baldwin et al. (2004), Welsh et al. (2003) less than 30% of its potential generalized range in the U.S. is currently occupied.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites is capable of projecting seeds up to 15 feet (Uhing and Spencer 2003). Natural dispersal is not typically long distance. However, Euphorbia myrsinites is planted as an ornamental and can be purchased on the internet (Whitinger 2004).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:High/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites is classified as a noxious weed in WA and CO and control efforts are underway in these states. However, Euphorbia myrsinites is still planted as an ornamental and can be purchased on the internet (Whitinger 2004). Euphorbia myrsinites also occurs in disturbed areas (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). Assumption is that this species' local range is not declining or remaining stable.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites requires open soil and disturbance to germinate in Colorado state (APRS Implementation Team 2001). In Washington State, Euphorbia myrsinites occurs in disturbed areas and waste places (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:High/Low significance
Comments: Occurs in Ontario, Canada (Kartesz 1999); therefore it is known as an escape outside the region of interest. Information is needed about the habitat it invades in Canada.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites reproduces mainly by seed but roots fragmented by cultivation can produce new plants (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: High/Low

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites can be controlled with herbicides (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). Small infestations can be dug or pulled; however, caution is required to avoid getting its caustic sap on skin (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). In order to control a population, methods must be repeated over multiple years (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:High/Low significance
Comments: In order to control a population of Euphorbia myrsinites, methods must be repeated over multiple years (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance
Comments: Herbicides may impact non-target species. Appliation should be done selectively (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Euphorbia myrsinites is classified as a noxious weed in Washington and Colorado (GRIN 2001). It produces a caustic latex sap that causes blisters on the skin, and vomiting and diarrhea when ingested (WA State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). The invasion of Euphorbia myrsinites reduces forage for wildlife (Uhing and Spencer 2003). Euphorbia myrsinites is still planted as an ornamental in some areas (Whitinger 2004). Assumption is that accessibility is a problem in some areas where the species is grown as an ornamental but most areas are accessible.
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Alien plants ranking system (APRS) Implementation Team. 2001a. Alien plants ranking system version 7.1. Southwest Exotic Plant Information Clearinghouse, Flagstaff, AZ. Online. Available: http://www.usgs.nau.edu/swepic/ (accessed 2004).

  • Baldwin, B.G., S. Boyd, B.J. Ertter, D.J. Keil, R.W. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti and D.H. Wilken. 2004. Jepson Flora Project, Jepson Online Interchange for California Floristics. Regents of the University of California, Berkeley. Online. Available: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/jepson_flora_project.html (Accessed 2004).

  • Beauchamp, R.M. 1986. A flora of San Diego County, California. Sweetwater River Press, California. 241 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2016. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 12. Magnoliophyta: Vitaceae to Garryaceae. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxiv + 603 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Rice, P.M. 2004. February 19 last update. Invaders Database System. Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula. Online. Available: http://invader.dbs.umt.edu (accessed 2004).

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • USDA Agricultural Research Service. 1990. USDA Plants Hardiness Zone Map. Misc. Publ. Number 1475.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2001. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.URL: http://www.ars-grin.gov/var/apache/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?6438. (Accessed 2004)

  • Uhing, K., and E. Spencer. 2003. Last update December 15. Myrtle Spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites). Colorado State University Cooperative Extension - Adams County. Online. Available: http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/Adams/weed/myrtlespurge.htm (accessed 10 December 2004).

  • Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board. 2003. Written findings of the State Noxious Weed Control Board. Available at: http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/weed_info/contents.html. (Accessed 2004).

  • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich and L.C. Higgins. (Eds.) 2003. A Utah Flora. 3rd edition. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S.A. 912 pp.

  • Whitinger, D. 2004. Dave's Garden website. Online. Available: http://davesgarden.com/ (accessed 2004).

  • Wisconsin State Herbarium. 2004, January 20, 2004 last update. Wisconsin state herbarium vascular plant species database. Available: http://www.botany.wisc.edu/wisflora/. (Accessed 2004).

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