The Myrtle Spurge Plant ‘Euphorbia Myrsinites’

This perennial member of the Euphorbiaceae family is quite interesting. It has its origin in the rocky lands of Asia Minor and Southern Europe. Euphorbia Myrsinites has other common names besides Myrtle Spurge, including Donkey Tail and Creeping Spurge.

This plant divides opinion severely, with some people considering it a great decorative plant and others seeing it as a troublesome pest. As a result, some countries in the western hemisphere have banned its growth. They refuse this plant because it is highly prolific, making it difficult to control. Therefore, authorities in these jurisdictions find it more beneficial to avoid growing it together.

Features of Euphorbia Myrsinites

The Donkey Tail maintains Euphorbias reputation for producing unique plants with a shape that many consider architectural. It has bluish leaves covered with waxy white powder protecting the plant from direct sunlight. Euphorbiaceae plants are succulents, although some of their relatives have a cactus-like appearance. There is no mistaking the Myrtle Spurge for a cactus; its leaves are pointy and fleshy like a true succulent. The leaves also grow from the crown of the stem, which looks like a bit of a rosette.

The architectural appearance of leaves on the stem is one of the main unique features of the plant. They are close to each other in a specially organized way, giving it a great look. This plant doesn’t grow too high. The stem rises to just about eight inches. The plant also grows to around one foot wide. It produces flowers in spring-like other plants in its genus. These flowers are usually yellow, but they can turn pinkish with time. Myrtle Spurge flowers have the typical Euphorbiaceae polyandrous arrangement. They form in clusters where four or five male flowers surround one female flower.

euphorbia myrsinites plants
Photo by @plantsnap via Instagram

Placement and Sunlight

Euphorbia Myrsinites is adaptive to hot, dry places with rocky soil and little water. The Myrtle Spurge is a complex plant to put down, and it can flourish even on drywalls.

This plant prefers full, direct sunlight. It is best to grow it outside, and many people use it to mark the boundaries of driveways. The wax on its leaves gives it the ability to withstand rays of direct sunlight. It can also survive in the USDA zones five to nine. Zone nine, the harshest of these zones, can have summers lasting ten months.

Watering

Your Donkey Tail requires very little water, and you might never need to give it any additional water. Water is only in the event of a severe drought. Ensure the soil is dry for several inches before you water it. Overwatering is usually counterproductive to succulents as it will cause root rot. You are, therefore, better off erring on the side of caution, prolonging the period between the drinks rather than reducing them. Water is more destructive to this plant than lack of it. The plant doesn’t require too much humidity in the air either; it can grow quite well in a dry environment.

Soil

You should plant Euphorbia Myrsinites on the same type of soil if you want to domesticate it in a pot or a garden. We have already seen that this plant’s natural habitat is dry sandy or rocky soil. The soil should be easy to drain away any extra water. The pot where you grow the plant should also have enough drainage holes to keep it safe from waterlogging, which could be the greatest danger to its health. You can buy a cactus mix as pottage but ensure you mix it with gravel or pumice at a ratio of 80% gravel and 20% cactus mix.

Fertilizer

The Myrtle Spurge requires minimal nutrients to thrive. We have already seen that it prefers rocky, poor soils. This decorative plant doesn’t need you to feed, in other words.

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Propagating Euphorbia Myrsinites

This plant is exceptionally prolific, it hardly ever needs you to propagate it as it drops copious amounts of seeds, and the vast majority are viable. The plant also produces large numbers of offsets and its roots when you use cuttings for its propagation.

You can uproot the seedlings that grow when the seeds fall on their own if you want to grow this plant away from its current location. You can also remove some offsets with roots and plant them where you want to plant them.

If you want to use a cutting, which is rare, you should cut a stem with a sharp, sterile knife or another cutting tool. The cutting should be three inches long; remove the leaves on the lower third of the cuttings and keep it under a shade to wither for two or three days. The cutting is likely to rot if you don’t allow it some time to dry off. Sterilizing the cutting tool is vital to keep the mother and daughter plants from getting infected.

Plant your newly obtained Euphorbia Myrsinites cutting in well-draining soil and water it regularly. Keep it from direct sun but with an abundance of sunlight. Move the cutting to a sunny place and let it grow. The cutting should grow roots in about two weeks under ideal conditions.

The best time to propagate the plant is at the beginning of spring, regardless of your method. This is because the plant grows in spring and summer; thus, reproducing it at the beginning of spring will allow it to be well established by the end of the growing season. Ensure you have protective gear when obtaining the cutting. The sap will give you the Euphorbia Myrsinites rash due to its toxicity if it comes in contact with your skin.

Pruning

This is a relatively invasive plant and, therefore, it needs pruning to keep it in check. Besides controlling growth, pruning allows the plant to flower evenly. You should also prune yellowing leaves on the plant. Always use sterilized pruning shears to keep the plant from getting infected.

Pests and Diseases

Like other spurges, this plant doesn’t have significant problems with pests. Its sap is toxic, making it unpalatable to most pests. Mealybugs and aphids can, however, attack it, and it can get fungal infections and root rot if you grow it under conditions that are too wet for its liking.

You can remove the bugs by spraying the infected places with a 50:50 mix of liquid detergent and water. Spraying the infected leaves with plant-based pesticides such as neem and pyrethrum can help if the detergent option proves ineffective. Also, you can dislodge the pests physically by spraying the infected parts with high-pressure water. This option may not be effective because the plant grows to cover the ground. The problems tend to fall on other plant parts and keep going.

Cork disease is one of the most common fungal diseases caused by overwatering. Cutting off infected parts is the best way to deal with this disease because fungal infections are pretty stubborn. You can tell your plant has root rot when you see its roots start to turn yellow. Ensure the soil is well-drained and stop watering the plant for a while. The seeds will stop rotting. You will know when it regains its standard color.

spider on euphorbia myrsinites plant
Photo by snibl111 via Pixabay

Euphorbia Myrsinites Toxicity

Euphorbia Myrsinites’ toxicity is why some jurisdictions think it is not a very good plant to grow. Many people tangled with it have experienced the Euphorbia Myrsinites rash, which occurs when its sap touches the skin.

However, the toxicity of this plant’s sap is not unique to it. It is a common characteristic across all the over 2100 spurge plants. Yet these plants have adorned home globally as some of the most exotic and exciting domestic plants.

How To Control Euphorbia Myrsinites

Controlling this plant is one of the primary husbandry practices because it can grow way beyond where you want to keep it. The plant is a master of self-seeding. It also propagates through the stems and sections of roots. Also, it would help if you kept it in check because it dominates the area, making it difficult for other plants to grow.

The key to controlling this spurge is understanding the timelines of its reproduction. In western countries, Euphorbia Myrsinites flowers in March and April, after which the flowers develop into pods of seed. They burst open when the pods dry, dispersing the seeds almost five meters away from the mother tree. Each plant produces many highly potent seeds that grow briskly and in large numbers. If the cycle continues for a few seasons, large portions get colonized.

You can prevent the dispersion of seeds by destroying the flowers or picking the pods before they mature. If you allow seedlings to grow beyond the designated area, uproot the new plants before they flower and burn them. Be on the lookout because some of the bits of roots that remain in the ground can sprout as new plants and pull them out as they do.

Growing thick vegetation around your patch of Myrtle Spurge is another way of keeping its spread in check. The plants should be lush and well-fed to withstand the onslaught that is sure to come from the Myrtle spurge.

euphorbia myrsinites plants outdoors
Photo by @jackie.glynn via Instagram

Final Words

In conclusion, Euphorbia Myrsinites is a typical Euphorbiaceae in terms of care. It doesn’t take too much effort to maintain. Therefore, you can plant it but ensure you control its spread with a significant caveat. Taking your eyes off it for a season will leave you with a considerable challenge.

ABOUT ME

Richard Miller

Salute everyone. It's Richard, the author of this Succulent & Xeriscaping blog. I am a traveler and a nature lover looking for a connection with the wild green. In my journey, I found a love for succulents and xeriscaping. What attracts me is the long-lasting & unique beauty of every plant I have the chance to see with my own eyes. Welcome to my little blog and let's enjoy a good time together!

Contact me: richard.succulentcity@gmail.com

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Posted in Perennial Plants