Thursday, May 14, 2009

Euphorbia Myrsinites

Well..... I did some research about that mystery succulent plant in my garden and here is what I found out:
* Euphorbia myrsinites * Perfect for sunny rock gardens, banks, or along a driveway, commonly referred to as Donkey tail Spurge or Myrtle Spurge, (Zones 5 to 8). * Has long trailing stems covered with blue-green leaves that look like miniature eucalyptus branches. * Bright yellow flowers bloom at the tips of the stems as early as February. * The plant is only about six inches tall but spreads a foot or more in width. *(A note of caution, however: Euphorbia myrsinites is listed by the USDA as a noxious weed in the state of Colorado.) * May cause irritation to the skin, avoid contact with the plant's milky sap, as it is poisonous.

As if all of this information wasn't educational enough I stumbled across this enlightening website which gave the following information:
Post-mortem examination of people killed by Euphorbia latex has revealed severe inflammation of the walls of the stomach and intestine and in some cases the wall of the stomach has been perforated. The poison is called euphorbon about which little is known.

There is no doubt about it. Many plants in the family Euphorbiaceae are dangerous if you handle them carelessly. In some cases, just one drop of latex on your skin can cause a rash the severity of which depends on how each individual reacts to it. If the white, milky latex touches a cut or sore or squirts into your eyes, you are courting trouble of major proportions.

The name Euphorbia is considered by many in South Africa as synonymous with poison.

While reading the following story below... I was immediately reminded of my situation:

Every spring when I repotted my plants, I had a very painful mess of tiny, hard bumps on my hands. They were not red and not blisters but so painful it felt like a hundred little razor blades were stuck in my skin. These hurt for a week or more and then disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. Last spring I repotted only my Euphorbias and that's how I became aware they were the source of my problem. Whether one specific plant was responsible I don't know. And I don't plan to experiment further!

This experience prompted me to look for information on reactions to Euphorbia latex. The following awesome stories and other tidbits of information will, I hope, alert everyone to the real dangers of handling these plants without taking proper precautions.

Many Euphorbias are used for medicinal and other good uses. But I found it interesting that a plant can be both helpful and toxic at the same time. Although my particular species of Euphorbia isn't as poisonous as some of the others, I will not be letting Quincy get too close to it.

Hopefully you all have learned to not make the mistake I did.


lindquist said...

DANG!!! Mystery SOLVED! I got into this when I was in the 6th grade. It dot on my neck and by my ear! This one blister got so big they had to cut it off! YUCK! I never knew the name of the plant, just that it was a succulant and that it was a the park near where we lived on Patrick Drive.

lindquist said...

We NEED more Q pictures! NOW!

Jennifer P. said...

I had this growing by my driveway and ripped it out. I don't like stuff that looks "deserty". But I'm strange like that :). THanks for letting me know what I had!