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Purge The Spurge: Utah County Offers To Exchange Invasive Poisonous Plant For Native Plant In Local Gardens

Picture: Salt Lake County

PROVO — Utah County is asking homeowners to help them get rid of a garden plant that is poisonous and is causing problems for the state’s wildlife.

The plant is beautiful. Myrtle Spurge has spiraling stems and yellow flowers when it blooms.

Picture: Salt Lake County

“It was really popular in the 70’s and 80’s so you’ll see a lot in older neighborhoods,” said Susan Sims with the Utah Native Plant Society.

The problem is Myrtle Spurge does so well in Utah’s rocky and dry soil that it won’t stay in local gardens.

“It’s become a really big problem,” Sims said. “It’s spread out of gardens into our foothills, forests and natural areas along the Wasatch Front.”

She said the flower is taking over natural plants and if wildlife tries to eat the stuff they’re poisoned.

“It can cause severe skin irritation including blistering. If you get it on your eyes it can cause blindness,” Sims said. “That sap is toxic.”

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Utah County is offering a plant swap at their next Purge The Spurge event on April 28th. Sims said if landowners bring in their Myrtle Spurge they will send the first fifty people back with a native plant to take it’s place. Before you head out with a hoe and bag, Sims warns you need to be careful removing the plant.

Picture: Salt Lake County

“If you are going to take out the plant you need to take precautions. You need to wear gloves, long sleeves and eye protections,” she said. “If any of that sap gets on your skin you need to wash it immediately with soap and water.”