Annual 'Purge the Spurge/Sock the Rocket' weed pull and reward program underway

Aims to increase awareness of noxious Myrtle and Cypress spurge, Dame's rocket

April 30, 2018

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – The sixth-annual “Purge the Spurge” event is now underway through June 30, and this year aims to “Sock the Rocket,” by targeting another noxious weed in Garfield County, the Dame’s rocket.

Garfield County residents are urged to pull the three highly invasive noxious weeds – Myrtle and Cypress spurge and Dame’s rocket. Garfield County Vegetation Management has included Dame’s rocket, a highly invasive plant that is spreading throughout the county.

Cypress Spurge
Cypress Spurge – Unknown photographer

All three are noxious weeds originally imported as ornamental garden plants. They readily escape the confines of the garden or lawn and invade areas of native vegetation. Myrtle and Cypress spurge are popular for planting in xeriscape and rock gardens.

They thrive in dry, rocky areas. Their sap is a milky latex that is highly caustic and can cause severe skin irritation. Dame’s rocket has a showy purple flower and grows up to four feet tall. It is widely distributed in “wildflower” seed mixes.

Here’s how the program works. Pull and bag your spurge or Dame’s rocket, and contact a sponsor listed below. The sponsor will give you a voucher that you can redeem for landscape or garden plants at the Mountain Valley Greenhouse in Glenwood Springs. Each 13-gallon garbage bag of Myrtle and Cypress spurge or Dame’s rocket may be redeemed for $20 worth of plants at Mountain Valley. Smaller quantities are accepted and the reward will be adjusted accordingly.

Collect the plants in a plastic bag. Be aware that the milky sap of both spurge plants can cause skin irritation, so wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants when pulling. To dispose of the bagged spurge, once it has been verified by a sponsor, place the pulled, bagged spurge into a trash receptacle.

“This program has helped increase awareness on the Myrtle and Cypress spurge – and hopefully Dame’s rocket – problem throughout the county,” said Garfield County Vegetation Manager Steve Anthony. “We appreciate all the help from our residents in our efforts to eradicate these three noxious weeds.”

Myrtle Spurge
Myrtle Spurge – Renee Savickas

To sign up, contact one of the event sponsors: Garfield County Vegetation Management, 970-945-1377, ext. 4305; Colorado State University Extension, 970-625-3969; or the Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side Conservation Districts, 970-404-3450.

Please verify that you have one of the spurges or Dame’s Rocket with a project sponsor before you pull the plants.

Also sponsoring this year’s event are the CSU Master Gardeners, Mountain Valley Greenhouse, and the City of Glenwood Springs. The CSU Master Gardeners are an excellent resource to assist with garden education and may be contacted at 970-625-3969.

Contact Steve Anthony, Garfield County Vegetation Management, at 970-945-1377, ext. 4305; or email Steve Anthony for more information.