Warnings issued by Salt Lake County Health about dangerous myrtle spurge plant

The Salt Lake County Health Department is urging residents to steer clear of myrtle spurge, an invasive and harmful weed that was originally brought to Utah as an ornamental plant. Despite its initial purpose, myrtle spurge has spread to natural areas and is now considered harmful to plants and wildlife. The SL County Health Department advises against touching or removing this plant without proper safety measures due to its invasive nature.

Myrtle spurge, often promoted as deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, is quickly taking over foothills and wild lands in the Wasatch Front area. This plant is recognizable by its blue-green triangular leaves and milky latex sap. In the spring and summer months, it produces small flowers with yellow bracts. Myrtle spurge spreads through seeds and can project them up to 15 feet.

The white sap of myrtle spurge can cause skin irritation, including rashes, redness, swelling, and blisters. It is important to avoid contact with the sap and flush the affected area with water if exposure does occur. The state of Utah classifies myrtle spurge as a noxious weed and restricts its sale.

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By Sophia Gonzalez

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